Realize that sending email is not the same as talking to a person face to face. A sentence that might be clear to someone talking to you face to face might come across quite differently without the tone of your voice or the look on your face. Trust and respect are just as important in an email message as in a face to face meeting. Be mindful of your manners – you’re not just sending and receiving typed messages on a computer screen. Think how others will likely receive your message before you launch it into cyberspace.
- Include an informative subject line.
- Plan what you intend to write.
- Get straight to the point of your email. Be concise, but be aware – rushed messages can lead to miss-communication.
- Focus on the message. What do they need to know?
- Provide details. Can they act on your information?
- Use eye-catching headlines to organize information.
- Use action words if you are sending instructions.
- Provide them a method of reaching you.
- Double check what you have written. Sometimes this double checking can save you some real embarrassment.
- Do consider when your email recipient will read your email. Many people send and receive email at regularly scheduled times of the day only.
- Don’t get carried away with special effects.
- If you don’t want it shared, don’t write it. Don’t put something in an email message that you would not want read by everybody. Email can be misdirected or forwarded to others.
- Don’t type in all capitals. This is the electronic equivalent of SHOUTING! Conversely, don’t use all lower case because it’s hard to read.
- Don’t create or forward “chain-letter” email.
- Avoid flames. A “flame” is an inflammatory or critical message. Be careful what you write. Sarcasm is not always clear in a mail message, and something that you meant to be funny can be taken very seriously.
- Avoid sending junk emails, emails with insufficient information, or any other email that might trigger an upsetting response from the recipient.
- Don’t immediately respond to messages that make you angry. Remember - once it’s sent, you can’t get it back. Take time to reflect on your response and review it. It might be necessary to soften the tone, remove emotion or make sure your message won’t be misconstrued.
- Don’t send threatening mail. There are many public personalities and government officials with electronic mail addresses. Jokes and threats sent to these people are taken seriously. Depending on the person you send mail, you could find yourself behind bars.