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According to Messaging Online, there were more than 560 million e-mail accounts worldwide at the end of 1999. E-mail is by far the most popular form of Internet usage in the world. Yet with so many e-mail being shot off here and there, many users wished they had some kind of guideline in writing proper e-mails. Well despair no more. After this article, you will be an expert in e-mail etiquette. Follow the tips below to improve your e-mails:

1. Do not write long winded e-mails unless the recipient expects it. Keep your e-mail short and sweet.

2. That does not mean, however, you can go cutting out words or phrases and create abbreviations to a point where it might seem to the reader that you are writing in an entirely new language. If you do need to use abbreviations, keep to the most common ones. Also, using proper grammar, spelling and pronunciation will ensure your e-mail is well understood and the message gets across loud and clear.

3. Users are fond of attaching files to their e-mails. When attaching files, think of the recipient's mailbox size. It is no use attaching a 5MB file if the recipient mailbox is only 3MB large. The e-mail will only end up being returned to you.

4. Limit your lines to about 60 – 65 character long. Writing in lines that are too long will make it difficult for users to read your message as some e-mail readers might not be able to wrap the text to suit their window’s width.

5. Never ever send an e-mail as a “test message”. If you do need to test your e-mail, send one to yourself – it works just as well.

6. Some users fancy using signature files. Keep these simple and neat. Creating signature files full of graphics and which are longer than the e-mail message itself is a sure way to irk readers.

7. Always sign your e-mail. Nobody likes reading stuff from Mr. or Miss nobody.

8. Never ever spam. Spamming is sending of unsolicited e-mails. This is not only impolite but illegal as well and you can be prosecuted for it!

9. Do not send copyright materials. One or two lines might not be a problem but sending entire articles or documents is an outright infringement of international laws. You don’t want to mess around with international laws do you now?

10. Never write in all CAPITAL LETTERS. Capital letters are equivalent to shouting on the Internet. And believe me, nobody hears your e-mails!

11. If you do need to emphasize a point, try using the asterisk (*) before and after the word or phrase like: “I *really* enjoyed your joke the other day”.

12. You could also use smileys to express your emotions. Smileys are small symbols you have to see sideways to make them out. Smileys are normally written at the end of a sentence before the period. Common ones are like: -
Happy :-)
Sad :-(
Surprise :-O
Angry :-@ or try using one or two capital cased words
Winking ;-)
Smile :-}

13. Format your e-mails (bold, italics, underline, colors etc.) only if you are sure the recipient e-mail reader has capability to display formatted text. Otherwise it’s better to stick with simple plain text e-mails.

14. When forwarding e-mails (and this is a favorite at the workplace), do try to erase all the names of the previous recipients and forward only the e-mail message itself. This will ensure your e-mails gets a better chance of being read the minute it is opened.

15. Do not spread viruses. If you know (or should know) that certain e-mail contains virus, forwarding it can be considered a crime and you might just lose your job! Yes, it’s that serious!

16. Do housekeeping. This means manage your e-mail Inbox. Do not let e-mails pile up by the thousands. Delete unwanted ones. Make folders and store important ones. Always keep your Inbox lean and mean with no more than 20 e-mails. This will make it easier to notice new e-mails when they arrive and will directly improve your productivity.


These are some of the most important tips you can follow in writing and managing your e-mails. E-mails are an expression of ourselves. You can say that e-mails are our electronic self. Therefore, it augurs well if we use the proper techniques in e-mail writing because it helps us to project the best possible image of ourselves to the outside world.