Today, the majority of the Internet users use electronic mail to send messages—both personal and professional. Therefore, it is essential to realise the importance of E-mail etiquette, which is the collective name for a group of guidelines that you should follow while writing E-mail messages. See this link for more information on Netiquette.
You should apply the following guidelines when using E-mail:
Language: When you write an E-mail message, you should follow the basic rules of courtesy to greet and acknowledge the recipients. Do not use all uppercase characters in an E-mail message because such text is considered rude and can be misinterpreted as shouting. In addition, you must avoid using offensive and inflammatory language.
Grammar and punctuation: Most E-mail programs provide a grammar and spell-check feature that can find errors in your e-mail messages. Missing punctuation marks can make your e-mail message confusing. In addition, avoid overuse of punctuation marks, such as exclamation marks or ellipses, to emphasize your thoughts.
Emoticons: An effective one-to-one conversation includes use of visual cues, facial expressions, and body language. In e-mail messages, you can use emoticons or “smilies”, which are a collection of characters, to convey your emotions. However, use emoticons sparingly in business communication.
Cc and Bcc: You can use the Carbon Copy (Cc) field in an E-mail message to mark people who you want to keep informed. Use this field to include only those people who you want to send a copy of your message. The people whose addresses you add in the To and Cc fields cannot view the addresses that are in the Blind Carbon Copy(Bcc) field. The use of the Bcc field is often discouraged.
Attachments: Each E-mail account has a certain storage limit. Sending E-mail messages that have large documents, pictures, or other types of files as attachments may completely fill the E-mail inboxes of the recipients. As a result, the recipients may not receive any more E-mail messages. In addition, recipients might have to spend a considerable amount of time to open large attachments. To avoid these problems, you can compress the attachments that you send with the E-mail messages.
Message format: Formatting messages with attractive colors and fonts help you create an interesting and eye-catching E-mail message. However, some E-mail programs might not support certain formats. Sometimes, richly formatted messages appear as unreadable characters, which can confuse and irritate people. A simple solution is to use the default formatting that is available in your E-mail program.
Length of e-mail messages: The length of your personal E-mail messages need not be limited. Professional E-mail messages should be concise and clear. However, do not use abbreviations or delete necessary details to reduce the length of your E-mail messages.
Salutation: In personal E-mail messages, salutations do not need to be formal. You can begin your message with salutations such as Hello. In business communication, ensure that you use appropriate salutations for the recipients. Formal salutation is the safest to use in your E-mail messages, for example Dear Mr Jones.
Signature: A signature is a small section of text that appears at the end of the message. This text contains your contact information. In a hand-written mail, you can easily add your signature at the end of the document. Similarly, an E-mail message should include a signature to identify the sender. In case of personal E-mail messages, the recipient generally knows the sender, and therefore, a signature is not necessary. However, professional communication must include clear and precise signatures. You can include your address, phone number and E-mail address in your signature so that the recipients can contact you, whenever needed. Avoid using fancy quotations and formatting in your signature.
Reply: When you receive any professional E-mail messages, ensure that you reply to them promptly. Delay in replying creates an impression that you are disorganised or that you are not interested in the communication. Additionally, retaining part of the original message in the reply helps set the context of your E-mail message. When replying to an E-mail message, you do not need to reply to all the people marked on the message unless required.
Exercise: Go through the activities in this link to consolidate your knowledge of email