E-mail Etiquette
E-mail Etiquette

February 1, 2008

1. Use descriptive or meaningful subject lines. The subject line should be short and represent the e-mail’s theme, such as “Minutes from Feb. 10th TDC Meeting.” Address one subject per e-mail whenever possible, and stick to the subject of your message.

2. Be concise and use many paragraph breaks. Keep paragraphs short and don’t send long e-mails. Add blank lines between paragraphs, points and questions to improve readability.

3. Include the message context. When replying to an e-mail, include the text of the original message, but quote only the relevant portions.

4. Don’t enter the recipients’ e-mail address(es) until you are ready to send the message. This prevents a half-written e-mail from accidentally being sent.

5. Respond swiftly, preferably within the same working day and certainly within 24 hours. If the e-mail will take more time to respond to, send a reply saying that you have received the message and that you will get back to them.

6. Don’t use e-mail when a telephone conversation or a face-to-face meeting is more appropriate or will prevent misunderstandings. And, if you are getting emotional, it’s time for a face-to-face or telephone conversation.

7. Use the Bcc: field when sending an announcement or newsletter message to many people. The To: and CC: fields publicize someone’s e-mail address without their permission.

8. Only use “reply to all” if you really need your message to be seen by all the recipients of the original message.

9. Don’t forward a potentially sensitive e-mail unless you have permission.

10. Don’t send an attachment if the content can be written in the body of the e-mail. When attaching file(s), attach them before typing your e-mail so you don’t forget to attach the file(s).

11. Immediately and clearly state the purpose of the e-mail in the body of the text.

12. Be obvious with your meanings, since subtleties will be lost or misunderstood. Also remember this when reading others’ e-mails.

13. Never make comments that you would not want others to read or that are libelous, sexist, discriminating or offensive in any way. E-mails can be easily forwarded.

14. Answer all questions, and pre-empt further questions.

15. Use the automated “E-Mail Off-Campus Notice” tool to notify people when you are unavailable for more than a day.

16. Make sure you keep your mailbox size well under the quota. If you exceed your quota, your mailbox will refuse all messages sent to you, and you will not receive them unless the originator sends them again.


18. Take care with abbreviations and emoticons. Don’t use abbreviations – such as BTW (by the way) – or emoticons – such as :-) – unless you know the recipient understands their meaning.

19. Be careful with formatting. Remember that the recipient may not be able to view formatting (bold, colour, etc.), or might see different fonts than you intend.

20. Reread your e-mail before sending. Consider the tone and content of the message from your recipient’s perspective. Ensure it is clear, concise and has many paragraph breaks. Check for potentially confusing or inappropriate comments.

21. Use a signature file that includes your contact information. The recipient can then call or mail you without asking for that contact information.

This column is courtesy of the Information Technology Department. If you have story ideas, please e-mail them to help@uleth.ca.

U of L Communications and Public Relations Contact:
Communications and PR Officer (403) 382-7173

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