Over the past few years, e-mail has become a work necessity. Can you imagine life without e-mail?

Although it is an informal method of communicating, some basic rules of style or etiquette still apply. Avoid embarrassing yourself by using the following rules and tips.

Never assume your e-mail messages are private or can be read by only you or the recipient. This isn’t true. E-mail can be easily forwarded without your even knowing, so always be careful about what you write. The basic rule is: only send messages that you would be comfortable seeing in the morning newspaper.
DON'T TYPE IN ALL CAPS. In the world of e-mail, this is perceived as shouting.Capitalize words only to highlight an important point or to distinguish a title or heading. *Asterisks* surrounding a word can be used to make a stronger point.
Be careful when using sarcasm and humor. Without face-to-face communication your joke may be viewed as criticism. When being humorous, try using emoticons to express humor ;-) (tilt your head to the left to see the emoticon smile).
Limit line length to 65-70 characters across. Otherwise some e-mail programs will wrap the text at wrong points or not wrap it at all.
Write messages that are to the point. Otherwise you’re wasting bandwidth. E-mail may be inexpensive to most, but not to all.
When sending a Web site address, always type it in the form of "http://…" because with some e-mail programs, the user can click on the Web address to go directly there. This is quick and convenient for most e-mail recipients.
Write descriptive subject lines. Many busy people will only open messages with captivating subject lines. Try to think creatively!Also, focus on one subject per message and always include a pertinent subject title for the message. This way the user can locate the message quickly.
Don't overuse acronyms like BTW (by the way) or IMO (in my opinion). Not everyone is experienced with this jargon and they may not want to admit their confusion. However, if you’re writing to an individual who understands these acronyms, using them can help you save typing time!
Read over your e-mail before you send it. Although e-mail is a more informal method of communication than a letter, it looks unprofessional when there are spelling or grammatical errors. Take the time to properly check your e-mails before clicking the send icon!
Always follow chain-of-command procedures for corresponding with superiors. For example, don't send a complaint via e-mail directly to the "top" just because you can. E-mail isn’t the best way to voice a complaint since the messages are sometimes misinterpreted. A seemingly innocent message could get you into very hot water.

Read meeting dilemmas solved by the Meeting Guru.


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