Dos And Don’ts Of Email Etiquette

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Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

Handwritten letters have such a long history that there have been long established guidelines for writing and sending them out. While email has only been widely used for almost 20 years, there’s still some haziness on what is proper email etiquette. Not to worry, Southern Living’s editor-at-large Kimberly Schlegel Whitman has some great tips on the dos and don’ts of email.

The first and biggest rule is do not hit reply all. No body wants to have their inbox full of replies to a mass email that only say a couple of words. If it is an announcement of good news, send your congratulations only to the lucky person. In the case that it is one person asking a question of many people, no one else needs to see your reply. Only hit reply all if what you have to say is important to all parties cc’d on the email.

If your message is only six or seven words, it’s okay to put that in the subject line and leave the body blank. In our fast paced world, sometimes it’s quicker to scan the subject lines and shoot off a quick reply.

Don’t compose an email in ALL CAPS. Not only is it harder to read, but this is generally perceived to be the internet version of shouting. Just as you wouldn’t yell indoors, please don’t yell in your messages. Only use CAPS for emphasis on a single word or phrase.

Another thing you shouldn’t do when you type an email is use text message abbreviations. An email isn’t a text message or Twitter post, you are do not have a character limit. Rather than typing “thx,” you have the time and space to spell out the full word “thanks.” Correct spelling and grammar will reflect better on you.

One of the biggest things to remember is to never send an email in haste or anger, as you could accidentally send something you may come to regret. Take the time out to cool down and think of a calm way to reply. If you are really riled up, you can vent your feelings out, but just remember to not put the name in the To line and delete the message when you’re done.


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