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Business Writing Etiquette Workshop

E-mail 101 OR Everything You Ever
Wanted to Know About Netiquette
Developed by the
EASTCONN Tech Council
September 2006
Adapted from the E-mail Etiquette Workshop developed by
the Purdue University Writing Lab
E-mail Facts
E-mail is fast and reliable.
E-mail can be sent and received any time of
the day or night, 365 days a year.
E-mail is virtually replacing “snail mail” as a
way to communicate.
E-mail is viewed as a blessing by some and as
a curse by others.
Did you know that…
Your e-mail messages can be intercepted and read
anywhere in transit.
E-mail can be reconstructed and read from backup
Administrators have the right to monitor your school
e-mail communications.
Under federal law, schools must archive e-mail and
“must be able to produce ‘electronically stored
information’ during the discovery process” in any legal
dispute. (eSchool News Online, Dec. 8, 2006)
Did you know that…
If you are involved in a legal dispute with a parent,
the parent has the legal right to review your e-mail.
If you are suspected of a crime, law enforcement
officials with a warrant can seize your electronic
The Electronic Communications Protection Act
permits your Internet Service Provider to look
through all stored messages, including e-mail
awaiting you in your mailbox or recently sent and
received mail.
Did you know that…
All e-mail falls under
the Freedom of
Information Act.
This means that…
All e-mail can become part of the public record.
E-mail can be subpoenaed.
E-mail can become part of a student’s
permanent record if his/her full name is
included in an e-mail.
Why is e-mail etiquette important?
We all interact with the printed word as
though it has a personality and that
personality makes positive and negative
impressions upon us.
Without immediate feedback your document
can easily be misinterpreted by your reader,
so it is crucial that you follow the basic rules
of e-mail etiquette (AKA Netiquette) to
construct an appropriate tone.
General Format: The Basics
Write a salutation for each
new subject e-mail.
Try to keep the e-mail brief
(one screen length).
Return e-mails within the
same time you would a phone
Check for punctuation,
spelling and grammatical
Use caps when appropriate
Format your e-mail for plain
text rather than HTML.
Use a font that has a
professional or neutral look.
Be mindful of size; format
simply and attach only small
General Format: Character & Font
Set your e-mail preferences to automatically
wrap outgoing plain text messages
Use the Enter (or Return) key only to break
between paragraphs
A standard font size is 12 point – any smaller
makes it difficult to read
General Format: Lists and Bullets
When you are writing
directions or want to
emphasize important
points, number your
main points and hit the
Enter (or Return) key
between points.
For example,
Place the paper in
drawer A.
Click the green
“start” button.
General Format: Tone
Write in a positive tone
“When you complete the
assignment...” instead of
“If you complete the
Avoid negative words that
begin with “un, non, ex” or
that end with “less” (e.g.,
useless, non-existent,
Use smiles :>), winks ;),
and other graphical
symbols to convey some
facial expressions only
when appropriate.
Use contractions to add
a friendly tone when
appropriate. (e.g.,
you’re, I’d, she’ll).
General Format: TO, CC & BCC
TO is for the people you
are directly addressing
CC (Carbon Copy) is for
people you are indirectly
BCC (Blind Carbon
Copy) is for keeping
e-mail addresses private
Use BCC and CC
If you are a teacher:
Be clear with your
students about whether
they can contact you via
Tell them what kinds of
subjects you are willing
to deal with via e-mail in
case you have any
If you have cut-off times
for when you will
respond to e-mail, inform
your students about
those times.
Seek consent from
students before
discussing their e-mails
in the classroom.
General Tips for Using
School Email
Avoid discussing private concerns and issues.
Always create a subject heading.
Choose a subject heading that matches the
content of your message.
Don’t use all UPPER CASE letters -- this is
considered shouting.
If you have something long to
say in e-mail, send it as an
If you send an attachment, use
RTF (Rich Text Format) if you
are unsure what software the
receiver has
When you are sending an
attachment, tell your respondent
what the name of the file is,
what program it is saved in, and
the version of the program.
Example: “This file is in MS
Word 2000 under the name
General Tips for Electronic Mailing
Avoid discussing private concerns and issues.
It is okay to address someone directly on the
list, e.g., “Hi Leslie, regarding your question”
Change the subject heading to match the
content of your message.
When conflict arises on the list speak in person
with the one with whom you are in conflict.
Check with your Network Administrator about e-mail
storage quota
Empty your Sent Items and Deleted Items folders
regularly – they take up lots of space on your computer
or your e-mail server.
Filters can block inappropriate subjects but they don’t
necessarily block everything.
If you get Spam, delete it without opening it; if it’s a
continuing problem, notify your network administrator.
Some systems have “Spam Bulk Folders” for you that
should be reviewed.
Flaming in e-mails
Flaming is a virtual term
for venting or sending
inflammatory messages
in e-mail.
Avoid flaming because
it tends to create a
great deal of conflict
that spirals out of
Flame fights tend to
affect observers in a
very negative way.
What you say cannot be
taken back; it is in black
and white and can be
forwarded, archived or
printed and distributed.
Keep flaming under control
Before you send any e-mail
message, ask yourself,
“Would I say this to this
person’s face?” If the answer
is NO, don’t send it.
Calm down before responding
to a message that offends
you. Once you send the
message it is gone.
Read your message twice
before you send it and
assume that you may be
misinterpreted when
Have a second reader if you
feel the situation is sensitive.
If you feel the need to flame…
There are times when you
may feel the need to blow off
some steam.
Remember your audience
and your situation before
sending any e-mail.
Here’s a way to flame:
Flame On
Your message
Flame Off
Then delete this message
without sending it. You’ll
feel better without doing
any permanent damage.
Responding to a flame
Empathize with the
sender’s frustration and
tell them they are right if
that is true
If you feel you are right,
thank them for bringing
the matter to your
Explain what led to the
problem in question
Avoid getting bogged
down by details and
minor arguments
If you are aware that the
situation is in the
process of being
resolved let the reader
know at the top of the
Apologize if necessary
When Email Won’t Work
There are times when you
need to take your discussion
out of the virtual world and
make a phone call or talk in
If things become very heated,
a lot of misunderstanding can
occur – the printed word
cannot impart tone of voice
and body language.
When you are delivering very
delicate news, face-to-face is
definitely the best.
Netiquette Quiz
Ready to see how e-mail savvy you are? Test
your “netiquette” at:
Burning Questions?
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