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Email Etiquette

Set time aside to read your emails.
Read an email in its entirety and determine whether it requires action from you. If it does, use the appropriate method to respond. At times senders include the process for responding to their emails. If they do not state any other way, then reply to them.

Be informal, not sloppy.
Your colleagues may use commonly accepted abbreviations in email, but when communicating with external users, everyone should follow standard writing protocol. Your e-mail message reflects you and our district, so traditional spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules apply.

Keep messages brief and to the point. Just because your writing is grammatically correct does not mean that it has to be long. It can be frustrating for your recipients wading through an e-mail message that is twice as long as necessary. Concentrate on one subject per message whenever possible.

Use sentence case. USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS LOOKS AS IF YOU'RE SHOUTING. Using all lowercase letters looks lazy. For emphasis, use asterisks or bold formatting to emphasize important words. Do not, however, use a lot of colors or graphics embedded in your message, because not everyone uses an e-mail program that can display them.

Use the blind copy and courtesy copy appropriately. Don't use BCC to keep others from seeing who you copied; it shows confidence when you directly CC anyone receiving a copy. Do use BCC, however, when sending to a large distribution list, so recipients won't have to see a huge list of names. Be cautious with your use of CC; overuse simply clutters inboxes. Copy only people who are directly involved.

Don't use email as an excuse to avoid personal contact. Don't forget the value of face-to-face or even voice-to-voice communication. E-mail communication isn't appropriate when sending confusing or emotional messages. Don't use e-mail to avoid an uncomfortable situation or to cover up a mistake.

Remember that email isn't private. I've seen people fired for using e-mail inappropriately. E-mail is considered company property and can be retrieved, examined, and used in a court of law. Unless you are using an encryption device (hardware or software), you should assume that e-mail over the Internet is not secure. Never put in an e-mail message anything that you wouldn't put on a postcard. Remember that email can be forwarded, so unintended audiences may see what you've written. You might also inadvertently send something to the wrong party, so always keep the content professional to avoid embarrassment.

Be sparing with group e-mail. Send group email only when it's useful to every recipient. Use the "reply all" button only when compiling results requiring collective input and only if you have something to add. Recipients get quite annoyed to open an e-mail that says only "Me too!"

Use the subject field to indicate content and purpose. It's also a good practice to include the word "Long" in the subject field, if necessary, so that the recipient knows that the message will take time to read.

Don't send chain letters, virus warnings, or junk mail. Always check with your IT department before sending out an alarm. Direct personal e-mail to your home e-mail account.

Don't REPLY TO ALL when receiving an email addressed to multiple people. If you have questions about the email sent, contact the sender only, or follow the appropriate procedure to get your questions answered.

External email recipients.  It is generally not good practice to forward internal email coorespondance to an external party unless, you are collaborating with that peron on a task.

Remember that your tone can't be heard in e-mail. Have you ever attempted sarcasm in an e-mail, and the recipient took it the wrong way? E-mail communication can't convey the nuances of verbal communication. In an attempt to infer tone of voice, some people use emoticons, but use them sparingly so that you don't appear unprofessional. Also, don't assume that using a smiley will diffuse a difficult message.

Use a signature that includes contact information. To ensure that people know who you are, include a signature that has your contact information, including your mailing address, Website, and phone numbers.
 
  • Example: John Smith
  • Teacher 4th Grade
  • Marley Park Elementary
  • Dysart Unified School District
  • 115042 W Sweetwater Ave., Surprise, AZ 85379
  • Direct Line: 623.55.5555
  • [email protected]

Summarize long discussions. Scrolling through pages of replies to understand a discussion is annoying. Instead of continuing to forward a message string, take a minute to summarize it for your reader. You could even highlight or quote the relevant passage, then include your response. Some words of caution:
 
  • If you are forwarding or reposting a message you've received, do not change the wording.
  • If you want to repost to a group a message that you received individually, ask the author for permission first.
  • Give proper attribution.