Stormy Weather SoftWare
Stormy Weather SoftWare
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E-mail etiquette

E-mail problems - General, formatting, HTML
E-mail problems - more.... Including security aspects
E-mail and IT abbreviations
Filtering incoming E-mail - typical "list" usage
AOL E-mail problems


[ Special E-mail etiquette for mailing lists ]

Human communication is approximately 90% body language, 8% tone of voice, and 2% content. With e-mail, you remove the first 98%. E-mail etiquette is an important element of modern communications. We must:

+ First create a written e-mail policy, including the do's and don'ts concerning our use of the e-mail system
+ Distribute the policy to all users
+ Train users to fully understand the importance of e-mail etiquette
+ Implement the rules and monitor compliance.

E-mail is designed as a text only means of communication. Do not use "HTML" code in your message - the additional overhead (up to three times a "text/plain") is slow to receive by many recipients, poses problems of archived volume, and may become an unreadable mess to users of text-only e-mail readers.

Use an underscore "_" around words that might _normally_be_underlined_.

Use an *asterisk* around a word to emphasize a point.

Avoid capitals - it smacks of SHOUTING. (Exceptions: ship names as in HMS VICTORY)

Avoid misinterpretation of dates by spelling out the month: 8 June 2002, not 6/8/02 (6th of August?)

Make use of bullets and short paragraphs; the more succinct you are the more likely your message will be:

+ read
+ understood
+ acted upon

Sending e-mail messages:

Create single subject messages, and stick to the subject. If you have three separate items to cover, use three short messages. Choice of Subject: allows each message to be filed, retrieved and forwarded separately according to content. Clarity in the Subject: header line allows easy scanning for message content in mailboxes.

Target your audiences carefully when you broadcast information. Keep the list of recipients and Cc:s to a minimum. Use Bcc: only for confidentiality.

The most important statements should appear as succinctly as possible in the first paragraph. Details can follow in subsequent paragraphs.

Adapt your choice of language and style to your intended audience.

If you use an abbreviation, write out the first use _in_full_ unless you are certain that your correspondant[s] will know the meaning.

Never insult or criticize; avoid flaming and the expression of extreme emotion or opinion in an e-mail message. Separate opinion from non-opinion. Think about the level of formality you put in a message.

Identify yourself and your affiliations clearly, with separate signature files for business and personal use.

Watch the send button. Take the time to proof read and check spelling. Be concise in your messages, avoid irrelevancies, compose carefully, and assume that any message you send is permanent.

Replying to e-mail messages:

Maintain the thread (Subject:), but do not "quote" unnecessarily, use [snip] generously: a whole newsletter sent back with a single line "Thank you" is inappropriate even though the thought is appreciated.

If the Subject: is wandering away from the original thread, but is still a follow-up, modify it to:

"Subject: New variation [Was: Re: previous thread]"

Never "top reply". Always "bottom reply" or intersperse short responses to individual points.

Your "signature" should normally be at the very end of your response. However, if you have a lengthy document to send, consider:

+ putting it as text below your signature - this is by far the most desirable, acceptable, rapid, functional and foolproof method
+ sending it as a text attachment to your e-mail
+ attaching it in proprietary format (.pdf .wpd .doc etc) only if you are certain that a) you are totally virus free, and b) that your correspondent has available a compatible version of the same proprietary software that you are using

Answer all questions, and preempt further relevant questions.

If a message generates emotion, read it again; reassess the message; assume the good intentions and competence of the sender; separate opinion from non-opinion while reading a message.

When communication seems tense or unclear, consider alternative media to clearly communicate information and intentions; break the cycle of send and respond - pick up the phone.

A few afterthoughts:

Finally, take care with abbreviations and emoticons (smileys), such as:

hth, hand :-)
(hope this helps, have a nice day, enjoy)

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17 January, 2003 Copyright © 1998-2003
Stormy Weather SoftWare Ltd