Monday, April 4, 2011

Ten Email Courtesies

I receive many shared articles and suggested Web sites from friends via email, and generally, I welcome them. But occasionally, I get annoyed, because some simple courtesies weren't observed. So, I thought I'd list a few of those courtesies here:
  1. Know me well enough to have a clue whether or not I will be interested in what you send. Many people, including me, do not appreciate receiving broadcast emails forwarding jokes, cute pictures, cause and charity appeals, inspiring messages, sales pitches, etc. Some people have limited capacity in their email programs and are inconvenienced when their inboxes get clogged with emails that don’t interest them. They want to tell you to stop, but they don’t want to hurt your feelings by telling you that you have poor judgment.
  2. Include source information when forwarding articles and quotations. Inquiring minds want to know. Who published the original article or quotation? What is the URL where the original is located? Who wrote the article or made the quotable statement? When was it published? If a quotation is in response to a question, statement or event, include some background information so the quotation is within a context.
  3. When forwarding anything within the body of an email, clean it up before hitting "Send." That means taking the time to delete anything that is extraneous to the content that you want the recipient to read. Extraneous refers to the "to," "from," and "subject" lines of prior emails in the chain, multiple electronic signatures at the end of the email, extra blank lines, advertising, rubrics like “print” and “share,” and the like. In many cases, extraneous will also include the prior emails in the conversation thread that have no bearing on what you’ve just written. Remember to clean up the “subject” line while you’re at it. Better yet, copy the content into a new email.
  4. Use a “subject” line that is informative. I am more likely to open your email when it first arrives, rather than save it for later . . . or never, if I know what’s in it. Everyone is busy and inundated with online input. Be specific, and if there is a time deadline for the contents, say so.
  5. Don’t send a URL without any commentary from you. It will get deleted, because I will suspect that it’s SPAM or a virus. It might be something that I would really have enjoyed seeing, reading, viewing or hearing, but I can’t take any chances with regard to online safety.
  6. Don’t hit “Reply All” when you really mean to reply to only one or two people. Everyone else will be annoyed. If it happens frequently, your emails will get deleted automatically without being read.
  7. Use “bcc” when you’re sending something to more than a few people who don’t know each other or aren’t in a committee or group. Your friends and acquaintances would prefer not to have their email addresses shared with people they don’t know. They don’t want to be solicited for someone else’s next great cause.
  8. Save the cute animated graphics in your signature line for someone who cares. Many email programs receive those animated graphics as attachments, which can slow downloading the email, and in some instances, pitch the email into the SPAM folder.
  9. Use a URL shortener when sharing links. Your friends will thank you. The most popular URL shorteners are and They shorten a long (sometimes three lines) URL to 20 characters, which is easier to copy and paste or retype.
  10. Check out what you send before you send it. I hate receiving emails of claims that are too outrageous to be true. Research before you send outrageous claims. Google them, or check them out at sites like and You may change your mind about sending or forwarding it.
 Good manners are always in style. Courtesy is always appreciated.

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