Posted by: episystechpubs | August 9, 2012

Editor’s Corner: E-mail Writing Etiquette

A long time ago, I had a request for some etiquette lessons (Mom, I hear you laughing). After getting additional details, I found that the requestor wanted e-mail etiquette for business writing. I may not know the difference between a fish fork and a fruit fork, but I think I can provide some helpful e-mail tips with the assistance of Lynn Gaertner-Johnston’s job aid: Email Etiquette: 25 Quick Rules(syntaxtraining.com). Today I offer you the first installment.

Note: In Episys eDocs we still use “e-mail” with a hyphen, but Ms. Gaertner-Johnston doesn’t, nor do many of the departments at JHA.

From Email Etiquette: 25 Quick Rules:

1. Begin with a precise subject. For example, write “Two Changes in Your Maui Itinerary” not “Travel Update.” Never leave the subject blank. If you are not sure what the subject is, you are not ready to send a message.

2. Think before you type. Decide why you are writing and what you want your readers to do. Then organize your thoughts. Don’t expect your readers to do the thinking for you.

3. Get to the point in the first two or three sentences. Be clear about your purpose. Don’t keep your reader guessing.

4. Insert essential information at or near the beginning. Otherwise, your reader may press Reply (or worse, Delete) before even seeing it.

5. Include your name and contact information at the end of your message and on attachments. Without it, readers may not recognize you as the writer, and they may be unable to reach you by phone or fax.

6. Keep your promises. Attach documents when you say you will, and be sure to attach the correct versions. Test hyperlinks to be sure they are correct and active.

7. Use standard punctuation, spelling, and capitalization to help readers understand your message quickly.

8. Change paragraphs when you change ideas. One-sentence paragraphs are acceptable.

9. Always insert a blank line between paragraphs. Big blocks of text intimidate readers. Intimidation = unread message.

10. Press Reply to say thanks only when the message merits a thank you or the sender needs acknowledgment that you received the message.

11. Don’t send “You’re welcome” messages. Although “You’re welcome” is expected in conversations, it is excessive in email.

12. Never criticize or blame in email. After you press Send, you have no control over how the message is received or understood.

[KC – My own favorite: Verify that you are sending your e-mail to the correct person. I know from experience that
Jackie appreciates photos of cute baby hippos and otter pups a lot more than
Jack Prim does.]


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