Email Etiquette

Rohan Brown

Email is not a new method of communicating, but there are important etiquette issues to be aware of. Over time a number of usage concepts have evolved to become commonplace in using email. The efficient and appropriate use of email should be your priority.

The inspiration for this blog was experiencing a major “no-no” in the receipt of an email.  Let me explain:

When sending an email to multiple recipients be aware that those to whom you are sending the email can view all the addresses in your email.  This is often not appropriate!  People typically do not want others to know their personal email address – particularly if you are sending the email from a business source – i.e. to multiple customers.

The solution?  When sending emails be aware of the “TO”; “CC”; and “BCC: fields.

Each has their unique purpose.

“TO” is where you send a message for particular recipients, whereas “CC” (Carbon Copy) is used as a courtesy to let others know of the email message, even though they are not the primary recipient.

“BCC” is Blind Carbon Copy, and is used where you want others to be in on the email but don’t necessarily wish for the “TO” and “CC” recipients to know who the email is being sent to as well.

Where you wish to send emails to multiple unrelated recipients it is good practice to use the “BCC”; field since the recipients will not be aware of the other recipient’s addresses. Some email programs also have the ability to suppress recipients from seeing each others’ email contact details. The negative to “BCC” is that is can be seen as “talking” behind another’s back.

There are a number of other common etiquette matters to also remember when using email:

  • Limit the use of CAPITAL typing. In email this is used to ‘shout’ or emphasise, but don’t over use it, since it can be seen as rude or abusive.
  • Use the ‘Subject’ on the email for a short attention grabber and importantly don’t leave it blank. Give the reader a heads up to what that message is about.
  • When sending an email, don’t use high importance marks unless it is urgent.
  • When sending emails use ‘read receipts’ if required or important, but don’t have them on by default all the time.
  • Use the spell checker on emails. Put it on auto default before sending any email message.
  • When sending an email that may be emotional, by all means get your feelings into the message, but then walk away for five minutes or save as a draft until the next day. Once you hit the send button the message is sent as opposed to land mail, where you have a chance to think about it before actually posting it.
  • Be aware that the written email doesn’t convey your body language or tone when writing it – so be very careful – re-read a few times first!
  • Just because the email may not ask for a response, common courtesy is to acknowledge the message.  A simple thanks may suffice.
  • Keep the email short and to the point. These are not designed as long conversations such as a phone call.
  • Be considerate of whom you forward emails to. Many people don’t appreciate ‘funny emails’ you receive being sent on.
  • Refrain from ‘out there’ fonts, colours and backgrounds. They often make the message hard to read and the font may not be supported on the recipient’s computer

The above and many more email etiquette items are easily found on the internet.

Perhaps you have some favourite likes and dislikes with emails?