Email Etiquette



Email Etiquette
What Not to Email:
With Apologies toTLC’s
What Not to Wear
See the show on TLC
with Stacy and
Get makeover tips live
with Kathy and
Check the status quo
It’s just email. Spilling and
pungswayshun don’t matter.
You know
SQ 2: Return address
Email addresses like these
build trust and rapport:
[email protected][email protected][email protected]
SQ 3: To quote or not to quote
To save time, you should reply
“Yes” or “No” without copying
any part of the original message.
SQ 4: Subject line
A message with a mysterious subject line
is more likely to be read.
Your subject line should
(drum roll please):
Describe the subject of
your email. Yep, that's it.
SQ 5: To joke or not to joke
A bit of humor—especially sarcasm—
keeps email interesting.
Participants [in recent studies]
were able to accurately
communicate humor and
sarcasm in ________
of the emails they sent.
Louise Dobson (2006)
SQ 6: Who gets the message?
When in doubt, copy everyone
in your address book.
One of the officers convicted of
beating R. King sent this email:
Oops. I haven’t beaten
anyone so bad in a long
A transcript of the message was
used at his trial.
SQ 7: Looking forward
Before forwarding a virus warning, you
should check it out at or
another reputable site
SQ 8: Adding emphasis
Please don’t
SQ 9: Make it easy on the eyes
Long paragraphs are easier to read.
Give me
a break!
SQ 10: Anything goes?
Email is informal, so there are really no
Mind your
Three manners mavens: Shea
 Virginia Shea is
“Miss Manners
of the ’Net”
 Pioneered netiquette
in 1994
 Book available online at
Difference: Where’s audience?
People who wouldn't dream of burping
at the end of dinner post offensive messages to
international forums.
Middle managers inadvertently send romantic
email messages to the
company-wide email alias.
People at computer terminals forget that there
are real live people on the other end of the wire.
Virginia Shea, Netiquette (1994)
Three mavens: Booher
 Communications
Dianna Booher is
“Miss Manners
of memos”
 Good tips for writers
 Blog available online at
Three mavens: Booher
How do you wind down an email exchange?
1. If the message is positive, assume all is well. If the
message context is negative, spend the extra few
seconds to reply and spare offense.
Reduce the length of your response. A single word
or phrase response implies "So long, I'm signing off
Repeat the action—yours or theirs. You're implying
that either of you should "jump right on it" and have
no further time to email.
Three mavens: Kallos
 Judith Kallos is
“Miss eManners”
 Best source
for specific advice
on business email
Style mavens: O’Conner
Email’s “very structure … encourages
 The blank subject line staring you in the face
is a signal to state your business and get on
it….and From fields seem to make
 with
The To
salutations and signatures redundant or
 What we have here is the ideal breeding ground
for rudeness.
For a manners makeover…
 Avoid terseness, which can be
 Use face-to-face communication
if issue is sensitive
 Read your emails aloud, looking
for ambiguity
Anatomy of email: To
My Entire Address Book
H. Honcho
Nothing important
1 July,2006
Anatomy of email: To
You mad mustachio purple-hued
Bcc: Henry IV, part 1
From: I. Rate
So-called service at your crummy
excuse for a store today
Tip: Use BCC wisely
 To keep addresses private, put
your own address in the To: line
and paste your mailing list in the
cc: line
 BCCs within an organization
can create distrust
Tip: Leave address blank
 If you’re furious and must answer
an email right away, leave the
address line blank.
 If you hit Send before you’ve had
a chance to cool down, the email
won’t go through.
Anatomy of email: From
Would you open mail from
 [email protected]_’
 [email protected]
 Dunno [email protected]
Anatomy of email: From
E-mail recipients put more weight
on who the e-mail is from than
any other item when choosing
 which e-mails to open
 which to delete
 which to complain about
Chris Baggot, ExactTarget
Anatomy of email: From
Be complete and be recognized.
Kathy Towner, WIN Communications
Anatomy of an email: Subject
Your subject can answer any of readers’
four key questions:
1. What’s this about?
2. Why should I read this?
3. What’s in this for me?
4. What am I being asked to do?
Anatomy of email: Subject
Girrrl friends
Ima Ditz
Change of plans
Anatomy of email: Subject
Sara Bellum
Gray Matter
Marketing meeting rescheduled
for 12/15/06
Anatomy of email: Subject
Sara Bellum
Gray Matter
Marketing meeting rescheduled
for 12/15/06 (EOM)
EOM = end of message
Tips: Subject
 Lead with the main idea
Browsers may not display more than first 25-35 characters
 Create single-subject messages
Subject: RSVP for Party and Benefits Enrollment Deadline
should be two separate messages
 Keep track of threads
Subject: New Year’s Party Plans
(was: New Year-End Bonus Structure)
More Tips: Subject
Double-check the address line before sending.
Insulted by a general email from the boss,
an employee sent an angry comment to a
colleague (she thought): “Does she think
we’re stupid?”
The reply (from her boss): “Yes, I do.”
Anatomy of an email: Body
Before you type anything into a new message,
have explicit answers for two questions:
1. Why am I writing this?
2. What exactly do I want the result
of this message to be?
43 Folders (2005)
Anatomy of an email: Body
Before you hit Send, review and delete
Negative comments about management
Criticisms of staff or performance issues
Bonuses or salary issues
Product or liability issues
Humor or other ambiguities
Anatomy of email: Body
 Write so emails are easy to read
 Make paragraphs 7-8 lines
 Insert a blank line between paragraphs
 Use headlines, bullets, and numbers
 If a message is longer than 3 screens,
send an attachment
Anatomy of email: Body
Subject: Noise level in the break rooms
How can we satisfy everyone?
Many of you have told me about the growing tension
you feel around using the break rooms. Some of you
use them to work and socialize; others need a quiet
place to work.
Your ideas are welcome
What do you think we can do about this? Should we
designate one room as a lounge and another as a quiet
D. Dumaine, Write to the Top
Tip: Balance formal/informal
 Like our work clothes,
the preferred writing style
has become business casual.
 Avoid extremes
Not too pompous
Not too passive
Not too careless or flip
Diana Booher
Formal or informal?
 Most people view email as
 more formal than a phone call
 less formal than a letter
Tip: Write business casual
 Strive for a style somewhere
between stuffed-shirt and t-shirt.
Diana Booher
Tip: Too formal is better
When in doubt, err on the side
of formality
“Usually the problem is that we treat
email too much like a phone call
and not enough like a letter.”
O’Conner and Kellerman (2002)
Meeting request: Informal
From: Bob Anderson <[email protected]>
Date: 21 Dec 84 11:40:12 PST (Fri)
randvax!anderson, randvax!gillogly,
Subject: meeting ...
we need to setup a meeting bet. jim you and i -can you arange?
i'm free next wed.
Meeting agenda: Formal
There will be a meeting of the FY86 planning task
force in Conference Room 1 on December 28, 1984
at 2pm. The Agenda for the meeting is:
--------------------------------------- Topic
--------------------------------------Strategic Business Plan
Budget Forecast for FY86
New Product Announcements
Action Items for 1st Qtr FY86
John Fowles
Sue Martin
Peter Wilson
Jane Adamson
30 min.
15 "
20 "
25 "
Tip: Avoid brusqueness
 Brief is good. Blunt is not.
 Question: Should I pursue an
advanced degree?
 Response 1: No.
 Response 2: I don’t think an
advanced degree would have
any effect on your potential
for promotion here.
Diana Booher
Tip: Spelling still counts
This is an actual email.
I can beat almost anyones price
and almost promise you success
and if I don’t reach it,
we wont charge you after the
time we say we can achieve it
until we do.
Tip: Spelling still counts
Sloppiness is one of “seven deadly e-mail sins”
Bad grammar, misspelling and disconnected arguments
gave 81 percent of the survey sample "negative
feelings" towards the senders.
41 percent of senior managers said badly worded emails implied laziness and even disrespect.
Question: Do I need a greeting?
 Consensus: Yes.
Otherwise, you can seem
brusque or unfriendly.
Question: Which greeting?
 Opinion: Divided
Some say “Hi, Steve,” is too
Some say “To whom it may
concern” is stilted.
For external communication,
use same greeting as in letter
For internal communication,
some use Myra:
Question: Which closing?
Match greeting in tone
Formal: Sincerely, Best regards,
Informal: Thanks; All the best,
Talk to you later
Use a sig line that gives your
name, title, and contact information
Omit a P.S.
(if the email is longer than a screen,
a postscript could be missed)
Question: Email thank-you?
36 percent of employers on
Monster prefer thank-you notes
sent by email
29 percent prefer traditional
Tip: Electronic isn’t instant
Many expect a phone call to alert them
to an email labeled Urgent.
Allow a reasonable time (two days – week)
for a response.
Respond before senders have to follow up
or business is delayed.
When would you use email?
To send confidential salary information
To address a personal hygiene issue
To get an immediate reply
To settle a conflict between two team members
To request a manual for the new phone system
To recap a conversation about a pending order
To set up a meeting next month
To keep people updated on a project’s status
When would you use email?
To send confidential salary information
To address a personal hygiene issue
To get an immediate reply
To settle a conflict between two team members
To request a manual for the new phone system
To recap a conversation about a pending order
To set up a meeting next month
To keep people updated on a project’s status
Why netiquette?
The electronic equivalent of a set
of fussy rules that tell you … which fork
to use with the salad course?
Netiquette does not consist of a set
of rigid rules.
It encourages you to adopt a certain attitude
of thoughtfulness.
Gregg Reference Manual, 10th ed.
Suggested resources
Available at
This presentation
Articles (including some by Kathy)
Best practices for email marketing
Recommended books
Grammar help
Test your netiquette
Tone: Example One
Female employees
H. Honcho
Dress code
1 July 2006
Clients will be visiting next
week. Halter tops and jeans
will not make the right
impression. It’s time you
started dressing for the
office instead of the beach.
Leave your flip-flops at home!
Tone: Example Two
All staff
H. Honcho
Reminder about what to wear to work
1 July 2006
During the summer, our dress code is
business casual. We think “business
casual” means clothes that feel
comfortable and look professional.
•khaki pants
•casual pants and skirts
•leather shoes… •leather or fabric shoes…
What makes email different?

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