UK: Etiquette for e-mail users.

UK: Etiquette for e-mail users. - Don't waste your time and other people's through incorrect use.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Don't waste your time and other people's through incorrect use.

An e-mail address is a business imperative these days. Used wisely, e-mail can be an effective notification of important information and changes in documents. Used unwisely, it could precipitate an avalanche of mixed information and frustration. The following tips may help:

Don't expect someone to act on your e-mail in less than 24 hours. Assume that each recipient is overloaded by e-mail and remember that priority is in the mind of the sender.

Think carefully before sending or forwarding e-mail to a group of people.

Is the information irrelevant to some people on your mailing list?

If you expect action, define those who are to act in the 'to' field, and those to be kept informed in the 'cc' field. Specify when you would want a response and when action needs to be completed.

If you don't have time to respond fully to a message, at least acknowledge its receipt and let the sender know when they can expect a response.

Be frugal with your bytes. Use hyperlinks (doclinks, viewlinks, data-baselinks, URLs) to documents residing on a central repository such as a web server. Avoid sending file attachments.

Avoid a terse 'yes' or 'no' reply. Put your message within context.

Remember the golden rule and don't cc or bcc a recipient's boss if action is required or a complaint is being made.

An e-mail cannot express mood, tone of voice or body language. Be concise and avoid humour that may be misconstrued. Don't compose a message when you're angry. Pick up the phone or see the person instead.

Use short paragraphs to make it easier to scroll through a long message.

Don't send a message you wouldn't want your family or future employer to see. Treat every e-mail as your epitaph.

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