Email Etiquette 101

The use of e-mail in corporate culture is pervasive. I rarely get letters any more. Even phone calls are uncommon. But I get scores of e-mail messages every day. Yet, I am continually surprised at how people often misuse this medium.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DNY59, Image #813841

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DNY59

Therefore, I would like to humbly offer up 18 suggestions for better e-mail communication and etiquette:

  1. Understand the difference between “To” and “CC.” As a rule of thumb, the more people you send an email to, the less likely any single person will respond to it, much less perform any action that you requested. The people you include in the “To” field should be the people you expect to read and respond to the message. The “CC” field should be used sparingly. You should only CC people who have a need to stay in the know. The “BCC” field should be used even more sparingly. People you include in the “BCC” field will not be visible to others.
  2. Keep messages brief and to the point. Make your most important point first, then provide detail if necessary. Make it clear at the beginning of the message why you are writing. There is nothing worse for the recipient than having to wade through a long message to get to the point. Worse, if you send long messages, it is much less likely that the person will act on what you have sent or respond to it. It’s just too much work. It often gets set aside and, unfortunately, forgotten.
  3. Don’t discuss multiple subjects in a single message. If you need to discuss more than one subject, send multiple e-mails. This makes it easy to scan subject lines later to find the message you need. It also contributes to briefer e-mail messages and a greater likelihood of a response. Also, the more specific you can be about your subject heading, the better.
  4. Reply in a timely manner. I don’t think e-mail demands an instantaneous response. I have written about this elsewhere. Responding once or twice a day is sufficient, unless you are in sales, customer service, tech support, or some other field where a faster response is expected. Regardless, you must reply in a timely manner, otherwise you will incrementally damage your reputation and decrease your effectiveness.
  5. Be mindful of your tone. Unlike face-to-face meetings or even phone calls, those who read your e-mail messages don’t have the benefit of your pitch, tone, inflection, or other non-verbal cues. As a result, you need to be careful about your tone. Sarcasm is especially dangerous. If something gets “lost in translation,” you risk offending the other party. The more matter-of-fact you can be, the better.
  6. Don’t use e-mail to criticize others. E-mail is a terrific way to commend someone or praise them. It is not an appropriate medium for criticism. Chances are, you will simply offend the other person, and they will miss your point. These kinds of conversations are usually better handled face-to-face or, if necessary, over the phone. Especially, don’t use e-mail to criticize a third party. E-mail messages live forever. They are easily forwarded. You can create a firestorm of conflict if you are not careful. Trust me, I’ve done it myself more than once.
  7. Don’t reply in anger. It almost never serves your purpose or long-term interests.
  8. Don’t reply in anger. In the heat of the moment, I have written some brilliant replies. I have said things in writing that I would never have the guts to say face-to-face. This is precisely why you should never ever fire off an e-mail in anger. They almost never serve their purpose or your long-term interests. They burn up relationships faster than just about anything you can do. If it makes you feel better, go ahead and write the message, then delete it. Usually a day or two after you didn’t send an angry e-mail, you’ll understand the wisdom of restraint.
  9. Don’t overuse “reply to all.” Last week I received an e-mail from someone who needed to know my shirt-size for a golf tournament. He sent the e-mail to about ten or twelve people. No problem with that. However, some of the recipients, hit the “reply all” key (out of habit, I am sure) and sent their shirt size to everyone on the list. This, of course, just adds more clutter to everyone’s already unwieldy inbox. Your default response should be to reply only to the sender. Before you reply to everyone, make sure that everyone needs to know.
  10. Don’t forward chain letters. These can be forgiven when they are from your mother, but they only add clutter in the workplace. Nine times out of ten, the information is bogus. It is often urban legend. If you feel you absolutely must pass it on, please make sure that it is valid information. If in doubt, check it out at Snopes.com, a Web site devoted to tracking urban legends and rumors.
  11. Don’t “copy up” as a means of coercion. It’s one thing to copy someone’s boss as a courtesy. I do this whenever I am making an assignment to someone who is not a direct report. (I don’t want their boss to think I am going around them, but I also don’t want to bog my communication down in bureaucratic red tape.) But it is not a good idea to do this as a subtle—or not-so subtle—form of coercion. You may be tempted to do this when you don’t get a response to an earlier request. But I would suggest that you will be better served to pick up the phone and call the person. If they are not responding to your e-mails, try a different communications strategy.
  12. Don’t overuse the “high priority” flag. Most e-mail programs allow you to set the priority of the message. “High priority” should be reserved for messages that are truly urgent. If you use it for every message (as one person I know does), you will simply be ignored. It’s like the boy who cried “wolf” one too many times.
  13. Don’t write in ALL CAPS. This is the digital equivalent of shouting. Besides ALL CAPS are harder to read (as anyone in advertising will tell you.)
  14. Don’t send or forward emails containing libelous, defamatory, offensive, racist or obscene remarks. If you do so, you can put yourself or your company at risk. You could be sued for simply passing something along, even if you aren’t the original author.
  15. Remember that company e-mail isn’t private. You have no legal protection.
  16. Remember that company e-mail isn’t private. You have no legal protection. Anyone with sufficient authority or access can monitor your conversations on company-owned servers. If you need to communicate privately, then get a free account at GMail. Use it for anything personal or private.
  17. Use a signature with your contact information. This is a courtesy for those receiving your messages. It also cuts down on e-mail messages, since people don’t have to send a second or third e-mail asking for your phone number or mailing address.
  18. Provide “if-then” options. This is another tip I picked up from Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Work Week. He says to provide options to avoid the back and forth of single option messages. For example, “If you have completed the assignment, then please confirm that via e-mail. If not, then please estimate when you expect to finish.” Or, “I can meet at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m. Will one of those times work? If not, would you please reply with three times that would work for you?”
  19. Use your spell-checker. I take my correspondence seriously. It reflects on me. As a publishing executive, the bar is even higher. If I misspell words, use bad grammar or punctuation, then it reflects negatively on me and my company. Lapses in grammar or punctuation can be forgiven. But misspelled words are just too easy to correct. That’s why God gave us spell-checkers. Make sure yours is turned on.
  20. Re-read your e-mail before you send it. I try to do this with every single message. My fingers have difficulty keeping up with my brain. It is not unusual for me to drop a word or two as I am racing to transcribe a thought. Therefore, it’s a good idea to re-read your messages and make sure that you are communicating clearly and observing good e-mail etiquette.

If you have other e-mail etiquette suggestions, please post a comment at the end of this post. If there’s something that drives you crazy, I’d like to hear about that as well. Most of us, I’m sure have ideas that can make e-mail a more civilized, effective tool for communication.

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  • http://www.kyleandkristy.com/kyle Kyle Chowning

    Coming from a younger generation (30something), I find that Gen X-Y often use email as a lazy means of communication. Rather than picking up the phone to accomplish an important task in 2-3 minutes, we’ll go back and forth for days; leaving the task unresolved and ultimately frustrated by the unfinished business. So to add:

    Evaluate the best method of communication
    Don’t assume that email is always the best method. Determine if the communication would be better served by phone or face-to-face.

  • Jeff DeVerter

    AMEN!

  • http://www.michaelsampson.net Michael Sampson

    How about …

    #19 … You don’t have to reply to an email with an email. If it is more effective, call the person and talk through the issues raised in the email. And if you find that you are emailing back-and-forth with someone trying to come to closure on a topic, pick up the phone and resolve it in real time.

  • http://www.michaelsampson.net Michael Sampson

    Well there you go … I should have refreshed the page before posting … Kyle and I are in agreement on this one!

  • Leigh

    A couple more for you:

    Avoid typing everything in lower case. It makes the emails hard to read and just looks unprofessional and sloppy.

    Use read receipts sparingly. I’ve received emails for birthday parties with read receipts! A while back there was a newspaper article that mentioned how a woman sent out a general email announcing something to the work population. She had read receipt turned on, as well as delete receipt, and the destination receipt. That amount of email crashed that server.

    And a couple personal pet peeves:

    Tell the person you’re emailing what you want them to do. I routinely get email cc’d to me where the sender wants me to do something for them, but spends the email talking to the addresses in the “to” line. I then have to ask if it’s a call for action or did they mean a person with a similar name.

    If you’re coordinating something, such as a meeting, please provide all the pertinent information up front (i.e., date, time/time zone, what you need done). I can’t tell you the number of times when I get something like “Can you support this?” and there’s a thread of ten emails I have to wade through to figure out what they’re talking about. Especially with meeting coordinations where multiple dates are discussed, it can be quite confusing.

    If dealing with multiple meetings with the same time, put an identifier in the subject line to help the receipient figure out at a glance which is which. It’s not hard to say “Sales Meeting with George” or “Sales Meeting with Philly” and will greatly save on confusion.

  • http://www.cballan.wordpress.com Christa Allan

    Thank you for this clear and comprehensive list.
    I’m a high school teacher, and I’ve received scathing E-mails from parents, things I’m certain they would not say to me personally. For some, their anger is diluted by their inattention to spelling, usage, mechanics, and clarity. Reading these, however, often helps me understand why their students are struggling.

  • http://www.spudlets.com Marc Velazquez

    Besides some of the rules for copying others, many of the rules you listed should also apply to bloggers and the posts they produce. Bloggers do not like rules (reberls that they are), so perhaps we could term them “suggestions”.

    My only addition to your list would be to exercise extreme prejudice for adding attachments to an e-mail, particularly if it is going out to several people, a whole department or the company list(!). You may think that that 2 MB flash cartoon or Powerpoint presentation isn’t all that big, but when it’s multiplied many times over then it can bring down the system.

    It’s also aggravating to have to wait for your e-mails to download because someone decided to include attachments of, say, 10 MB or more. Most companies have shared folders on networks set up for use by everyone with an account, though some folks think it’s easier to attach large files to an e-mail rather than copying a file to the network folder.

  • Chris Hitch

    I’ve been well served by remembering another email rule that one of my mentors noted. Rick’s Rule of Three is that if there are three emails (email, response, response to the response), then pick up the phone or use your feet to go across the hall (or in the next cubicle).

    This can be an addendum to Kyle and Mark’s responses on alternate communication strategies.

  • http://www.technotipster.com Roseanne Baker

    1. Use the Subject line for the whole message, when the message is short. Include (End of Message) in the Subject Line, so the person will know it isn’t necessary to open up the email.

    2. Put a lot of effort into writing the Subject: think of yourself as a newspaper reporter, writing an important headline. Include “tip off” words like ACTION, INFO, REQUEST to help the reader categorize the email.

    3. Read “The Hamster Revolution” which is a pleasant little read, with some great tips!

    4. If you use Outlook, there are lots of tips that can help you to be more efficient. I share mine with the people I work with, through my website… Quick example: drag and drop an email from the Inbox onto the Calendar or Task icon and it magically becomes converted into a Calendar or Task. Oh, and my new favorite: Right-click on any email in your Inbox and select “Create Rule” which gives you a prefilled shortcut to create an email rule. Much less confusing than the full-blown Rules Wizard!

  • http://www.faithandgrief.com Elizabeth M Thompson

    Great post! I would like to forward it to all those who annoy me with endless forwards, poor grammar, and emails that take the long, slow route to the point. Instead, I will just hold my own email activity to a higher standard. Thanks!

  • Sandy Bradley

    Please do not use acronyms. You may understand the meaning but other readers may not. Just this morning, I received an e-mail with “JC” for the title of a book and had to spend extra time to determine the title so I could complete the task. And may I please add an “amen” to the suggestion of telephone numbers and addresses.

  • Scott D. Winter

    In addition to number 2 above, Keep Messages Brief and to the Point, I would add that if I must send a long email (sometimes necessary to document an event/situation) I will always put in either the subject, or the first line, “LONG EMAIL ALERT!!!”. I will then explain WHY it is a long email. This lets the person know up front what they are dealing with. Especially in the days of Blackberry and PDA where reading long emails are cumbersome. At least you have documented what you needed, but let the receiver know up front that they are wading through a long email and why. Better yet, if the explanation is very long, just write it up in Word and attach it and keep the email short.

    One of my own is, please, get rid of the cute fonts and stationery. One of the best moves our company ever made was to standardize the look and feel of email. I’m not one to stifle creativity, but most of these things have no place at work. Save it for your personal email.

  • Carl Thompson

    Hey Mike — All great points. And well-written, as always. I too have learned to proof my emails before pushing “send.” But I go one step further. My late mother was a professional proof reader. She taught me to read copy outloud when proofing….your ears will often catch something your eyes have missed. — Carl Thompson

  • Carl Thompson

    Hey Mike — All great points. And well-written, as always. I too have learned to proof my emails before pushing “send.” But I go one step further. My late mother was a professional proof reader. She taught me to read copy outloud when proofing….your ears will often catch something your eyes have missed. — Carl Thompson

  • Larry Stone

    Mike:

    When I receive an e-mail marked “urgent,” it almost never is. It’s bizarre, but if there were a group of e-mails I could routinely delete without reading . . . it’s the “urgent” ones.

    Larry

  • http://emuelle1.blogspot.com Eric S. Mueller

    One of my biggest pet peeves has to do with forwards. My company will often send out a corporate email to the all-hands list, then a program manager will forward that email to the same all-hands list “in case you didn’t get this, then the Department Head will forward the same email back to the same all-hands list “in case you didn’t get this”. Often another layer or two of management feels compelled to forward the same email down to their organizational levels for the same reason. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I often have to delete the same email five or six times! Please, if you’re in the habit of forwarding announcement for “FYI” reasons, pay attention to which lists you’re forwarding to and which people are already on those lists.

  • http://www.tetsou.co.uk Tetsou

    A well thought-out list and some equally thoughtful comments. When tasked with improving email etiquette for a large Fortune 500 company in New York I surveyed various groups on their email pet peeves and came up with The 7 Deadly Sins of Email, a short article on the subject. The number one deadly sin of email we decided was a poor subject line, which I believe Roseanne mentioned above.

    In addition, I found that many people didn’t really understand the use of BCC. You can explain it, but folks don’t trust using it – it makes you look ‘sneaky’. However, it can be very useful. I’m about to post a short article on using bcc on Tetsou.

    My last comment is that you can’t improve email use in isolation – it has to be part of group learning experience. This is because the majority of email you receive is usually from a small, select group of individuals which comprise your immediate circle of influence. You may be surpised to learn that most of your email probably stems from those people sitting just a paperclip away.

    Life can be funny that way!

    Tetsou
    http://www.tetsou.co.uk

  • http://www.sibelius.com Lynn

    Thank you for your article and addendum posts – my question:
    If not all caps to focus attention, then what?
    e.g., In clarifying processes, I want to emphasize solutions to common mistakes without using: “PLEASE NOTE,”, in all caps, which you say comes across as yelling at my team.
    This is difficult when some team members insist on receiving plain text messaging, only.
    Thank you,
    Lynn

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Lynn,

    Generally, bold is used for subheads and italics are used for emphasis. (This is how it is done in books, for example.) If you are using plain text, you can surround the word or phrase with *asterisks.*

    Mike

  • http://healthsafetysecurityincte.blogspot.com/ Gerard Zarella

    Excellent suggestions Mike! However, I think I would add near the top of the list: Learn how to use your e-mail client. Know what all those bells and whistles do. Knowing how the e-mail utilities such as CC, BCC, Reply to All, Urgent, etc. is the first step to sending professional, effective e-mails. I think a lot of the etiquette mistakes we see, have more to do with individual’s not knowing the ins and outs of their e-mail service than anything else.

    And, to stay professional, don’t SHOUT unless you have to, and avoid all the little instant message shortcuts and emoticons, LOL :o(

    You have another enthusiastic reader! Hope that was brief enough to pass the e-mail “test.”

  • Christine Unghy

    A Tip on sending attachments.

    When sending one or ten attachments, give your reader the key points or highlights of the attachment. This should be no more then 5 points per attachment.

    Gains: Time savings and gratitude from your readers

  • http://www.colleencoble.com Colleen Coble

    Great post, Mike! Especially how email can be misunderstood so easily. I’ve gotten emails from people who are normally so sweet in person but they come across brusque and rude in email. I work extra hard to overcome that effect. Emoticons like :-) help as long as they’re not overused.

    Your suggestion about only one topic is great! I’ve noticed that often only one thing in an email is answered, then I have to email again asking the same question. I’ll put two or three in one email thinking it would be better for recipient but your way is much better.

  • Patty Kirk

    How about two more email etiquette suggestions for a round 20? 6, 7, and 13 sort of get at these, but obliquely.

    19. Never forward an email in which a person is telling you information intended only for you. Especially, don’t forward an email in which someone has expressed anger or frustration or other strong feelings about a certain person or situation. You may offend the person you are forwarding to as well as the original email sender.

    20. Never write anything in an email that you wouldn’t want forwarded. Period.

  • marie c.

    I see it as unkind & uneccesary to research an e mail discovering it as urban legend then forwarding an ammendment to addresses whom you do not know & embarrassing the sender. To care that one takes in false info. & enlighten a close friend is perhaps a concerned gesture – but to forward a correction only humiliates the sender & screams know it all. Just don’t pass it on & if it strikes you as that important, send a simple FYI in the most pleasant way to just the sender himself & let him/her know you discovered this as not the case in their original mail. (The sugar vs. vinegar theory.)

  • J.R. Heisey

    I would also like to contribute regarding what I call ‘Thank you’ emails and the like.

    When I respond to a question or provide information in an email I do not wish to open yet another email to read ‘Thank you’.

    - Adds to the email clutter.
    - Adds more email traffic to the corporate email server.
    - Disrupts my concentration if I’m working on something complex.

    Analogy: Would you spend the postage on a thank you letter if someone mailed you the same information?

    In a previous company when email first became the primary corporate message medium I remember not sending ‘Thanks You’ messages as a company policy.

  • Kenneth

    It seems to me people interpret BCC in various ways. When I BCC someone, I’m trying to tell them: “FYI… this is between you and me… and I don’t expect you to respond”. Invariably, the BCC recipient does a reply-all. There should be a rule against that, I think. What do you think Mike?

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael S. Hyatt

    @Kenneth: Yes, I think we need to be very careful with BCCs. I occasionally use it, but very sparingly and only with people that I trust not to “reply all.“

    • pepperlick

      I only use bcc when I want my boss to know something important was sent, for example, to confirm that a deadline was met.

  • Terry Banham

    Michael

    A great article. I would like to remind people in my own organisation about good email etiquette – not just what our policy is. Do you mind if I use some of your suggestions – with an appropriate citation, of course.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    @Terry: Yes. You are welcome to do so. Thanks.

  • Terry Banham

    Thanks Michael.

    Our thoughts have moved on a little. Our plan now is to use our intranet to give people some advice on good practice – using many of the suggestions in your article. We are then having a quiz based on good practice and some questions about our email usage – volume of traffic, storage space required etc with some small prizes. This way we are are hoping to get some buy in and awareness and a bit of fun.

  • Katie Harmon

    What about emails that are used in all bold fonts?

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    @Katie: Emails in all bold or all caps are the equivalent of shouting. They are definitely a no-no. Thanks.

  • Mudit Mahajan

    Thank you for the tips.

    I have a specific query – which I hope you will help me out with.

    I get email inquiries from customers, asking for a price quote. They would have cc’d that email to a few other people – I assume their superiors in the organization. In most cases, I do not know them.

    Is it appropriate to reply to the sender only, with the price quote? Or should I ‘Reply to All’ ?

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael S. Hyatt

    @Mudit: I would “reply all,” since the sender elected to include them in the conversation. Thanks.

  • Liam Cahalane

    What about excessive punctuation? I really hate it when people send me email and there’s about twenty five thousand exclaimation points at the end of a sentence.

  • http://cfl.rr.com Richard Flutie

    1-Be brief and to the point right off the bat.
    2-Re-read after a cooling-down waiting period.
    3-Never express anger in the written word.

  • Nick

    I received an e-mail written in all red letters. The first thing that came to mind was, Is the sender mad at me? Is this an accurate response or was I reading too much into it.

  • chelsea collins

    I think this article is way to long if you want anyone to see it you shoud make it more exiting

  • Rosie O’Brien

    While I do not mind receiving some, as in a few, forwarded messages, I do mind getting such messages which have been forwarded several times with all of the email addresses of people I do not know.

    I do not particularly want my address amongst them, offering it to who knows to start spam to my address.

    Perhaps this is how my address became attached to messages which have nothing whatsoever to do with me -like invitations to meetings in a town about 3000 miles away fom where I live.

    My point is first learn how to copy the content of a message you want to send to some one (not “ones”) without all of the addresses it was sent to previously. It is not that difficult to cut and paste.

    Second, please do not add all of those addresses shown in a forwarded message to your own email list. If you do not know who those people are, you have no business adding them to your own “To:” list, period.

    It is rather lazy practice to forward messages with a string of recipients blurted out before the message even appears.

    • Sean

      Rosie, You can also ask your friends to not add you to the "To:" list but the "BCC:" list. This way, the other people on the list cannot see your information.

  • Suzie

    I just read that emails to someone you don’t know should be addressed like a letter, such as:

    Dear Mr. Hyatt:
    Is this the correct form?
    Sincerely,
    Suzie

    I try to be polite and concise, but I don’t use salutations and closings. I appreciate your advice.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael S. Hyatt

    @Suzie: I am not that formal. I address people I don’t know with the appropriate honorific (e.g., “Mr,” “Ms,” etc.) and their last time, but I do not use “Dear.” Thanks.

    • http://www.niceandnewblog.wordpress.com Sosha

      Micheal,

      I have lost the count of number of times I have reprimanded colleagues and friends to not address people they don't know with "Dear."

      "Dear Sosha," makes me cringe, if I don't know the person writing to me. "Dear" must be reserved for personal communication only, is what I believe.

      Thank you for echoing my strong belief.

      Best,
      Sosha

  • tracey

    what do i do when a manager reads my email that i sent to them but will no answer and i HAVE to get the answer from them.

  • MC

    If your boss asks you to send out an email from him/her (which he/she wrote) should you send it out from your bosses computer and sign his/her name, or should you send it out from your own computer and sign your name “on behalf of your boss?”

  • James Erwin

    I’ve saved myself trouble by getting into the habit of adding the destination address last, after proofing, after attaching items, right before hitting send. No more missing attachments. No more accidental half-baked emails.

  • Ananda

    I´m really surprised with the fact that the e-mail is actually a MAIL.

  • Sandra

    I agree with Rosie on Forwarded emails. Sometimes they are forwarded so many times you have to scroll down for several minutes to find the original email. Also I have gotten put on email lists of people in that email with nothing to do but send jokes all day long, or are involved in discussions I do not care to take part in and yet – there I am stuck. Forwarding an email is lazy and not responsible as well as disrespectful.

  • Nanafran

    I had always heard that if you mention someone in an e-mail, you should always copy that person…but researching this rule I do not find it discussed in any of the etiquette websites. Especially if you are only referring to someone and of course if you are not saying anything bad about that person, shouldn’t they be on copy?

  • Bernie

    As an English educator, I am very diligent of e-mail "rules." My question has to do with replies; I think it is common courtesy for a boss, or anyone to reply to an e-mail, even if it is only to say, "Thank you for your idea, observation, question, or whatever." My boss replies to few or no e-mails, especially to those with which he doesn't agree. Is it professional to just ignore respectful e-mails from staff?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    I think that good leadership requires that people be acknowledged. They do matter. So, yes, I always try to reply, even if only to acknowledge that I received the email.

  • Amy Pemberton

    One concern I've not seen listed yet is people who use their business e-mail for personal matters. This is really a bad idea, especially in the current economy. If you get fired/downsized/laid-off your computer access will likely be cut off while you are being informed. (It's happened to me and I've seen it happen to others.) Do you really want to be trying to get a new e-mail address and distributing it to your friends and other contacts on top of dealing with the repercussions of a job loss? There's really no excuse–it is too easy to get free e-mail. Find out how if you don't know.

    The above also ignores the fact that some companies might take a dim view of employees using their company account for personal business. You certainly don't want e-mail to be the reason you got fired.

  • WLC

    I work for a company that has to communicate with clients overseas daily. We process orders for them, negotiate cost, arrange transportation, have technical managers review orders to make sure they are ordering everything they need, and my coworkers and upper management do not know how to communicate via email. They reply to emails by starting a new email with a new subject to our customers. Our customers are literally receiving five different emails about the same subject (how confusing). I know they do this because they probably don't have these emails filed properly or can't find the initial correspondence or just don't want to take the time to search their email for the initial correspondence. I do realize that if we have to print out these emails to keep as records in a file then after so much communication we are printing out page upon page of correspondence so I would like to know, is it appropriate to send new emails for the same subject or is it just me?

    Please Help!!

  • WLC

    Another issue is that there are people in our organization that insists on being copied on emails, however they neglect to read them and will later ask about something that was clearly stated in an email.

    This is truly frustrating and non-productive. I want to give out something to everyone at my workplace on email etiquette. How do I do that without seeming as though I am criticizing or stepping on someone's toes?

    Comments Please..

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  • Sophia

    I don't know the etiquette for this one but it is a pet peeve of mine: Follow up emails to, for instance "I will do this: that say Thanks! then the reply: Your welcome! I don't want to get 2 or 3 more emails that say nothing important. To me, it is a waste of time to stop and open and wait and read. AND these are replied to all!

  • Rich Quin

    Thanks for the post Mike. My company would benefit from the application of these 18 suggestions and from the comments here.

    I am writing a memo now with these suggestions in mind for all our managers and staff to consider.

    thanks.

  • Bryan

    XD …. i dont care about this =P

    lmao!!!!! XP

  • Donavan

    Here's one the ticks me off. When the reply has the original message in it and they argue with me by changing the wording of the message and add comments in the sentence body in red…

  • Ajo

    If you are sending an email to multiple recipients, who should you address first? Does email etiquette require that the higher ranking officers should go first?
    Thanks

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I think generally so.

  • jackie

    Don't send inflammatory political email to people you work with and don't know very well. I get offensive political email from a guy I work with and it just makes me angry, but I don't want to stoop to his level of hate mail. What can be done about these people who think that they are always right?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      My best advice is just to ignore them. The more you engage them, the more nasty they become.

  • Mary Defayette

    Because this is named 'email 101' I think it's important to talk to people that may just be learning about email rules.
    I have many emails that come to me as forwarded messages with lists and list of recipients. Can you explain to the novice how to delete former recipients and how and why to use BCC for multiple recipients.?
    (in Entourage for Mac, you must put an address in the 'TO' box, so I always make my address that one.)
    Great tips, thanks so much.

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  • ACB

    I'd also suggest waiting until the entire email is written and proof read before filling in the "To:" field. Often, especially on laptops, a slip of the thumb across a mouse pad on a laptop can be interpreted as enter/send. If the "To:" field is not filled out, this slip will result in no harm because the email can't be sent without someone in the address fields. This will prohibit any half-completed messages from going to recipients, thus requiring another message that says, "Sorry, the last message was incomplete, here's the remainder…"

  • Craig Abbott

    I dislike receiving forwarded emails with all the addresses of who the email has been sent to already. Also, there is often a lot of white space before you reach the substance. And, of course, the email that refers to an attachment that has not been attached.
    Thannk you,Craig Abbott, Realtor EmeritusLongboat Key, FL

  • Aidana

    If you are asked by A to contact B about xyz, give B as much background information as you can.

    I observed A ask C to ask B to include C in a meeting. C wrote B, almost verbatim, "Hi B, can you please invite me to this meeting?" The response was a confused phone call where B basically said, "why should I invite you?" C didn't mention A, didn't mention any reason why he should attend the meeting, and B said, "don't come". If C had written, "Hi B, Person A suggested that I attend this meeting because it would give me a better understanding of xyz that I'm working on. Would you mind if I attend/Could you send me a meeting invite?" things would have gone a lot better.

  • http://indeedly.blogspot.com Jennie

    As an unusually serious/bitter/sarcastic 13-year-old girl –
    Please. Do not overuse exclamation marks.
    When you change your Facebook status to "im so tired!!!!!!!!!!!! today i got a B on a test!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! gee that was hard work!!!!!!!!!1shiftone!! well im going to bed now baiz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" it looks like
    a) You're high on caffeine or sugar.
    …Or drugs.
    b) You're an insufferably silly person.
    c) You consider everything you have to say extremely important.
    So just stop it. :)

  • http://mediasocietypages.blogspot.com/ Leigh

    As a student journalist, I often have to send emails with requests for interviews or information to people who are far more important than I am. I therefore begin my emails with ‘dear’, and sign off with ‘regards’ to show that I respect them.
    Nothing irritates me more than when I receive a request via email and it starts of ‘Hi Leigh’, and ends ‘cheers!’

  • Magdalena

    I agree with the frustrating long emails listing 3 topics in one email. Criticism and sarcasm are 2 things I find difficult to deal with when in an email, as an electronic response does not resolve the issue. You are, however, now burdened to deal with it in some way, more appropriate than email. Back and forth emailing can often be shortened by a simple phone call (if the other person is available). By the third return email, I think, one must realise that emailing is probably not working and try another way of communication.

  • http://www.niceandnew.wordpress.com Sosha

    SO many people lack e-mail etiquette. Thank you for putting up the list. It made me check if I follow all. Thankfully, I do follow most :)

  • Mark Cleghorn

    The one we use at work is this:
    Follow your chain of command when sending your email. If you don't go to their door, don't go to their inbox unless specifically directed by your chain of command

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  • Christine Madden

    I would like to better understand why people utilize the "read receipt". I do not use the "read receipt" funtion. It drives me crazy when I hear someone state that they received the "read receipt". For me, it actually does not mean anything other than the email was opened. If something is that important, shouldn't it be either introduced or followed up by a telephone call?

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  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    Taking notes here… This is good. I tend to overuse email and have become aware of how ineffective it is if you abuse it. I think I’ve done a lot of these at one time or another and still struggle with a few them. This list really helps identify what I need to work thru. Thanks, Mike!

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    Agreed. It’s also a passive-aggression thing, I think, Kyle.

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  • http://twitter.com/briantjaggers Brian Jaggers

    The “if-then” option is great!  This will Definitely cut down on back and forth emails. I learned very quickly that although ALL CAPS IS STANDARD IN THE ARCHITECTURAL FIELD; it is considered rude in email correspondence. As always… great advice!

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  • Ali

    I’ve got a couple:
    - Don’t send out mass e-mails about your personal life to company lists. We had an admin who regularly would send our entire department (of about 50 people) cute pictures of kittens or weather reports from her previous hometown…you name it. I used the “create rule” function to send her mail straight to my deleted folder. I tried to at least glance at the subject line when they showed up in my deleted folder, but it’s possible I missed real e-mails she wanted me to follow-up on as a result of her misuse.
    - Don’t add needless clip-art, especially if you’re sending the e-mail to a list. As noted above with attachments, this multiplied by 50 recipients can really bog down servers. And it really doesn’t add anything. It just looks tacky. [Insert clip-art of personified thumbtack here.]
    - Several people have commented about evaluating the best method of communication. That’s definitely true – sometimes phone or face-to-face is a faster and better way to resolve a question – but I would recommend following up those conversations with a brief, bullet-pointed summary e-mail. It ensures you both understood the same things from your conversation, and gives you a record of the conversation to refer back to if you have a memory lapse later.
    - If someone sends you a mass e-mail and CCs people you don’t know, don’t add them to your prayer e-mail list. Or your “I should’ve checked Snopes but I’m gullible enough to believe anything” list. This seems like a no-brainer but I’ve been a victim of this on multiple occasions, and have had to e-mail the original sender to resolve the issue. (That’s another reason why BCC is so useful!)

  • Anonymous

    Really great advice.  Re #13 & 14 … to remind yourself, think: “E is for evidence when it comes to email” Employment Law lawyer Mindy Chapman drives home the point here:
    http://e.busdly.com/index.php?action=message&l=4&c=3583&m=2161&s=63cc8fcb00cdcbe673c503870419a59a&cigx=d.nac,stid.3583,sid.118924,lid.4,mid.2161

  • Anonymous

    somehow this practice (perhaps because I have hit reply all?) seems to clutter up my  address book with zillions of emails of people I do not know, whose names annoyingly pop up when I type in a couple of letters trying to send to a person I DO know.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a great article (as are most of the comments) but yes, it could use an executive summary…

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  • Chris Jones

    One thing I do on important emails is to not fill in the recipient(s) until the message is complete. I learned to do this after accidentally hitting “send” on some notes before I had finished typing, editing, or adding an attachment. It’s comforting to know that an email isn’t going anywhere until I’m for sure ready to send it.

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  • Ricky

    I would add that the last thing you should do before sending a message is populate the “TO” and if necessary “CC” field.  That way, you avoid any problems if you accidentally hit send.

  • hermit

    An addendum to #14: private email isn’t necessarily private, either. All email sent between different servers (such as from @Gmail.com to @yahoo.com) is sent “in the clear,” meaning there is no encryption or security. Don’t say or send anything you couldn’t have on a billboard.

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  • Acreggy

    I find that when people email all in bold text the tone is very harsh regardless of what the message is itself.  Your thoughts?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Absolutely. All caps has the same effect.

  • Rob Sorbo

    I really like your point about CCing-up. I once had this done to me with everyone from my assistant manager all the way up to my VP copied. Unfortunately, the person doing the accusing was the wrong one, but I had to explain that to the four different people who were copied (because when they realized they were wrong, they opted to not copy all the others).

  • Afelker

    Michael Hyatt and others,
    This site has helped me a lot with a school project. These tips are great, especially for the younger generations like myself (20-somethings). Thanks to everyone for posting!

  • Carolyn

    What does it mean when in an email instead of ending a sentence with a period it is ended with three periods or dots? …  Every single time. This drives me crazy!

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  • http://twitter.com/dan_steer Dan Steer

    http://dansteer.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/top-10-email-tips-for-business
    Thx again – happy to have discovered your blog today

  • http://www.electroserv.com.au Energy Management

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  • David Harding

    Was recommended your blog and love it and just subscribed for the newsletter and I am finding it very helpful. One small point I try to connect on Linked In and it comes up with email address required. Its possible to give you some privacy but if so why advertise the Link? Perhaps I am overlooking something obvious . Either way love your work David Harding

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words.

      Where are you seeing the LinkedIn link advertised? I really don’t use it and thought I’d eliminated all the links to it. Thanks.

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  • Anonymous

    I don’t have time to check all 92 comments, but checked several (20-30?) without seeing RULE #1: Always include an intelligent, specific SUBJECT LINE.

    I disagree with the one about “include the entire message in the subject line.” If it’s THAT short, you probably don’t need to send it. CALL.

    Emails without a subject, or “Hi”,  “Please Reply”, etc. are red flags. I always delete those UNREAD.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Good thought on the Subject Line!  To dovetail on that thought, here’s something I have practiced since reading it in the “Time Management Secrets of Billionaires” chapter in Chet Holmes book “The Ultimate Sales Machine”:

      If an email changes subject during the conversation (multiple replies), it is helpful to all parties to edit the subject line to reflect the change.  That way when later searching for the email, you don’t have to search endlessly through topics.  It also keeps everyone on task. 

      Of course, using Michael’s tips above will help mitigate multiple replies to start with!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      All Right—Thanks for your comment
      I live about a 9 iron away from Washington DC and many of the volunteers that I work with are high ranking officials in various government agencies. During one of my meetings, one of my volunteers, who just happens to be more decorated than a Christmas tree, shared with me a Govt. acronym that I never forgot. B.L.U.F.
      Bottom
      Line
      Up
      Front

      He wanted me to start sharing what the actionable item of the emails was “up front” then fill in the NEEDED supporting details around that BLUF. I don’t always follow the BLUF rule, but I never forgot it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=592793687 Tushar Pathak

    Highlighting important information by using inverted commas or writing in Italics will surely bring readers attention towards the information.

    When providing bulk information (which is not preferred) always use bullet points to make it easy and quick to read.

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  • Anonymous

    I always enjoy reading email etiquette posts.  One of my email favorites – If you can see the person or they are within 10 ft of you, you are not allowed to email them.   Walk over and have an actual conversation. 
     

  • Jenny

    Great post, one that I wish all junior staff could read and understand. Small typo in number 8 though: “unwieldy” :-) Thx

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for catching that. I just fixed it. Thanks.

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    Excellent information keep sharing  very useful information to all the user

  • Tdewissjd1

    I have a tip:  Make sure to start each e-mail with a salutary “What up Beeeeatch?” and end with “Word to your Mother.”  I meet a lot of babes that way. 

  • Barbara DeBisschop

    One suggestion I find inportant is to be sure the auto-fill feature has chosen the corrent email name & address before clicking send.  It’s happened several times to me that I meant to send a message to “Joe” in the office and instead it’s gone to “Joe” the vendor…double checking that can aviod confusion or worse, a message with proprietary info going to the wrong person.

  • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

    I think it is VERY important to use please and thank you.   Not just in email. Also in daily conversation.

  • Amberr

    What is proper etiquette when forwarding messages.  I am frustrated at the continuous forwarding of my email that is intended for one colleague and is then forwarded to another, expecially when it is a request of someone else.  It is then forwarded to the direct line employee with some preface of “Consider yourself informed”.  It is not libelous, or obscene – it’s business content, yet if I wanted to include that other person I would have contacted them  directly or put them in the “To” line.

    Please advise.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      That must be frustrating!

      You can always specifically ask the offender not to forward by using some kind of disclaimer like “for your eyes only”.  Of course, once the email leaves you, it’s outside of your control, so you have to keep that in mind when writing your content.  
      If forwarding the content could result in conflict with a third party and your experience tells you that the recipient has a history of using poor judgement when forwarding, I would place a phone call or talk to them in person.   

      I have a personal rule that I NEVER do conflict by email.  There’s just too much opportunity for things to get way out of control.

    • 1shoke1

      This happens to me every week at work. It’s gotten to the point I no longer e-mail people. I e-mail one person and heaven forbid I CC someone and then they turn around and forward it to half the people in the department, dragging out their own conversations on the topic in my personal email. Obviously I don’t include things I wouldn’t want others to see but that doesn’t mean they have a right to do this.

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  • Anitha

    Your blog has been very insightful.I especially liked “Provide if-then options” .
    My co-worker, for the most part (of the last couple of years), has included me in the CC field in his emails to me, even when he assigns the team (including me) with tasks. How should I bring it to his attention that adding my name in the CC field does not necessarily mean I should respond? or should I ignore it and move on, with the assumption that he is not aware of the etiquette?
    Thanks.

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  • http://twitter.com/applesguy Jack Rutt

    This is great list of email suggestions. I would advocate one more reason for appropriate use of BCC.  When you are sending email to “more than a few” persons who have no reason to know each other, put your own email address in the TO field with a “friendly” description (i.e. TourGroupList) and then use the BCC for the email addresses.  This is beneficial in at least three ways:
    1. If someone does a REPLY ALL you are the only one to get the reply.
    2. It honors the email address privacy of the unrelated individuals.
    3. It eliminates displaying a long list of email addresses at the beginning of the message.
    My personal definition of “more than a few” is generally about six or more.

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  • Sam

    One more:  Send action items to only one person.   Send information items to multiple.

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  • Bropurushotham

    Dear Sir! I Greetings to you in the name of the lord Jesus christ.
    I praise the Lord for the great opportunity given by God to write this letter to you,
    Sir I humbly request you to read this letter with christian love.

    I am Pastor.YM.PURUSHOTHAM CHOWDARY From INDIA,
    In the year of 2004 “BETHESDA PRAYER HOUSE” was established on 13th January,
    Our Prayer house located at Tsanubanda-521214, Chatrai mandal,
    Krishna Dist, Andhra Pradesh,South India.

    By God’s grace 465 people have been saved and by the believers heartful offerings, 
    we are nourishing some widows, and some handycrafts, and orphan children’s, 
    Nearly 20 children’s from poor familles depend on us for their daily bread and butter, 
    but how to feed them? It is only through the offerings of the believers of our congregation.
    The objective of this “JOY ANGEL’s CHILDREN’s HOME” is to educate these poor children’s bring them up 
    in the fear of the Lord, and to train them as missionaries for Christ.Now who are able, 
    qualified to serve the Lord. they have taken B.th degrees and are ready for the ministry, 

    The Bible says “what God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this to take care of orphans and widows 
    in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world” James:1:27
     
     
    Please Pray for the Needs of the “JOY ANGEL’s CHILDREN’s HOME”

    1) To bring up more number Chrildren’s
    2) Good Dormitories for the children’s
    3) Good schooling for the children’s
    4) A van to accommodate nearly 20 member’s for the children’s.

    This villages ministry is facing finacial crisis.75% of our believers are trials. 
    Still by God’s grace we have purchased the rented land and planing to build church bethesda prayer hall, 120 feets length, and 30 feets
    width (120×30). Our estimation is 30 lakhs indian rupees. Now basement & pillar’s work is completed.

    OUR OBJECTIVES Is

    1. To from teams to work in anew areas
       where the Gospel has not reached.
    2. To disciple new believers.
    3. To plant Churches among the 4000
       unreached people groups.
    4. To provide continuous Pastoral Care
       for the new believers and encouraging
       them to be dynamic witnesses.
    5. To establish partnership with local
       Churches.
    6. To help the Churches to raise the young
       generation for gospel work.
    7. To provide theological training to the 
       laity through Seminars.

    We mainly expect your prayers and prayerful offerings for strengthening these ministries.
    Dear Sir if you are interested to help us please kindly inform to this email Id.
    (bropurushotham@gmail.com)

    Thanking you

    your brother in christ 
    pastor YM.Purushotham Chowdary

    My address

    BETHESDA PRAYER HOUSE
    Tsanubanda-521214, Chatrai mandal,
    Krishna Dist, Andhra Pradesh,
    South India.

    Mobile number : +91 9866881163.

    E-Mail: bropurushotham@gmail.com

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  • Polly Walsh

    To whom it may concern,
    When emailing avoid over use of exclaimation marks, question marks etc for example, ‘When is the meeting??’  Please correct spelling?!
    It sounds angry, even…… can sound sarcastic.
    Thank you Polly

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  • Guest

    What do I do if our email dialogue is stuck, i.e. it’s time for me to pick up the phone, but I can’t, because the other person’s phone number is unlisted and not included in his email?  Could you suggest some specific text to use when asking him/her to phone me?  (Like in your item 16, where you suggested some specific sample sentences.)

    When I have tried to do this, it hasn’t worked very well.  I get email messages back which just repeat the unproductive discussion and ignore my request for a phone call.  When I again ask for a number or a call, okay, eventually the person grudgingly complies, but starts out the phone conversation already annoyed, because s/he had to give in and do things my way.

    Thanks.

  • Anibal Felix

    Grat article, most of us don´t think of proper use of email

  • Anon68

    “If I misspell words, use bad grammar or punctuation, then I think it reflects negatively on me and my company.”

    Grammatically, this should read “my company and me.” The personal pronoun is always placed at the end. Just FYI, I’ve noticed some other grammar/syntax errors and typos on this blog.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Like most grammar rules, this one can be broken if it’s intentional. In this case, I was trying to communicate that it reflects poorly on me but also my company.

  • Anon68

    This is an excellent list!

  • Aaron Bowman

    Number 11 is my pet peeve, I’d make this one #1  …. ;)

  • Aashish

    These tips are really helpful

  • http://toomanymeds.com/ Alex Barker

    I think I will add: Always address the email recipient. 

    A person’s name is sweeter to him than honey.

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  • http://twitter.com/Email_Etiquette Chee Wong

    Thanks for this great list.

    One that I would add is don’t use read receipts. It’s used fairly frequently but it doesn’t work.

    One other email etiquette that I wrote about recently relate to sending emails after hours (evenings & weekends). With the rise of working offsite/from home and more flexible working arrangements, this is starting to become an issue.

  • http://www.emailetiquette.com.au/ Jules

    Great list Michael.

    Do you have any research relating to “career expectancy” and those that don’t answer emails (I think there are a few in every company)?

  • Catering done right

    My new immediate GM copies the DM on his direct info to me or when requesting info from me before he personally directs a email or has a personal conversation with me for clarification.
    It is not a secret that he was unhappy that I expressed my concerns after I addressed my concerns more than twice to him and the OP’s manager as to the additional MOD duties requested of me as I am the Catering Manager & I felt I could not effectively perform the duties.
    When my concerns were not heard, I went to the next level the DM and he agreed.
    I was brought into a meeting the same week and told I would only be responsible for catering.
    Also I disagreed with my performance review as he could only provide feedback for the last 2 weeks of the time of the year ends review and did not include the DM’s comments that we discuss and was included in the meeting we had that I had to sign off on.
    Since then this type of email communication has started.
    I find this as portraying incompetency on my part.
    How do I address this?

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  • Pelerin7772002

    Don’t use an old email and hit reply to start a new conversation.  (Too lazy to type in the recipient’s address?)  The result is confusing.  Keep conversations and threads separate.  For example, I got an email today with “re: Sunday” in the subject, which referred to business that occurred some Sunday six months ago.  Annoying.

  • Fenwaynuts

    help!! cant seem to form an association to receive certain e-mails. can you help me? fenwaynuts@cfl.rr.com  thanks

  • The Public Defender

    You might want to read item 18.  Then go back and check item 1 (very last sentence).  The irony is uncanny LOL!  Nonetheless, good article.  Didn’t realize how old this was.  You probably won’t even see this post.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Fixed. Thanks for the catch.

  • Gareth

    Thanks for these suggestions Michael and others. I am a chronic overuser of email, much to my own detriment so this is helpful.

    I have been contacting businesses lately with a lot of email to and fro trying to get responses and sometimes nothing is forthcoming.

    Now I see that I would be better phoning the company, even though I don’t like using phones and would prefer to fire emails back and forth all day.

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  • Guest

    From my experience, I feel It is very important to reply to e-mails. Because it provides opportunity to add visuals, screenshots which otherwise will be difficult to explain over the phone. Also, in offshore/onsite working model, collaborating with foreign colleagues over the phone will be tough due to language barriers and difference in accent.  So, E-mail is a gift.

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  • Hello

    Great post.

    Ferienwohnung

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  • Gail Sklodowska

    I just sent my staff another article on email etiquette. I wish I had seen this one; it is a better version of the rules due to the great examples. Thank you for the well written article.

  • SK

    Do not forward emails “as is” outside of the organization and sometime even within the organization. It is better to write a new email with the important points from the original. Internal emails are meant for internal review.

  • dabrams

    Thanks for your article.
    Maybe you can help us – I forgot to include an important name in a mail distribution. If I do “forward”, he may feel slighted, and I don’t want to do “resend” it because I don’t want the first recipients to receive it again. Is there a way to resend the mail only to him and have the mail appear as though it is also being sent to the rest of the first recipients?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Not that I am aware of. If it were me, I would just be honest. Everyone has done this.

  • NN

    Etiquette is not a rule. Though I tend to agree with some of the bullets, in this recommendation on “how to do thing right”
    many of the points can not be treated as a standard, it’s all subject to to the company and structure you work for.

  • Jack

    Fantastic post. Thank you for sharing.

  • P

    Hello,
    I have a question: when an external email received by your boss and is forwarded to you to be replied to the external person, should you keep the messages or delete only the internal exchange of email, when answering this email? I am asking that, because my boss always say to delete the internal email and keep only the email from the external person. I believe we should maintain all conversation to make easier for the external person identify from where it is coming.
    ( I hope I made myself clear.)
    Thanks
    P

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Personally, I would hang onto all of it. But your boss may have a legal reason for deleting it.

  • P

    Thanks, Michael!

  • Michael

    I would greatly appreciate it if you could please answer the following questions:

    1)
    i) Let’s say I have a private important conversation with HR, my boss
    or security. After the conversation, I send them an e-mail containing
    the important points discussed. Now, I understand that e-mail is
    permanent record and serves as evidence. My question is this, will that
    e-mail serve as evidence in a court hearing if it gets to that point? My
    goal is just to protect myself and that’s why I ask this question.
    ii) Will your answer hold true if the conversation was via phone and I e-mailed them a summary after the conversation?

    2) i) Now, say if the other party sends me a summary of a conversation. Do I need to respond to their e-mail?
    ii) What if the summary contains incorrect facts, should I respond to their e-mail and set the record straight?
    ii)
    Assume in this case that I didn’t respond to their e-mail. Instead, I
    have an in person conversation and explain my position. The fact that I
    didn’t e-mail them in this case, would that go against me in the future
    if higher management reviews the situation later?

    3) Now say I
    receive an e-mail from my boss accusing me of some wrongdoing which also
    contains some wrong facts or lies. Should I respond to his e-mail and
    try to defend myself via e-mail? Again, I just want to cover my base.

    4) Is there any general rule for responding to e-mails? Like which one’s to respond to and which one’s not to?

    Thanks

  • Lisa S

    I also hate when people use text-speak in an e-mail! This includes using acronyms (idk, smh, etc) or using shortened versions of a word (ur instead of your or you are, 2 instead of the word two or to or too), not capitalizing ANYTHING, and using no punctuation.

  • Rpincinc

    I belong to a Sportsman Club and regularly receive emails from outside organizations that have done studies, lobbied for favorable legislation and provide written articles on interesting subjects. An officer of the Club personally belongs to these organizations and copies ALL when he receives them. I have requested in a business like manner to not be included in the distribution as it only leads to duplicate emails in my Inbox. Nothing seems to work and my Inbox grows larger by the day with duplicate emails.

  • Barbara

    What is the best action when an email is fowarded in error? I forwarded an invitation to an event in error. The distant location would prevent most individuals on the forwarded list from attending anyway. I’m wondering if it would draw less attention to the error and minimze any possible hard feelings to just let it go or should I send a follow up email explaining the email was sent in error and appologize for any confussion.

    • http://www.productiveinsights.com/ Ash

      Some email facilities have the option to recall an email. (I think outlook does) but that recall function only works when the person hasn’t already opened the email on the other end.

      I’d send a foliow up message explaining that the email was sent in error. Shows that you’re taking ownership of the message and the error.

      Hope that helps :-)

  • Alexander

    I like your thinking alot. I come to your website, as i was looking for information about “how to use the (cc) butten” you really helped me with your 18 strong suggestions.. i passed it on to the CEO, and i shared on Twitter :)

    I would like to inform you that David Allen from GTD has done some good work on the E-mail management as well. you might be interested in reading it. it’s on page 163 in his book if I right. I know it’s possible to find the book online (sadly) but i can’t recommend that of course.

    thanks for you sharing of E-mailetiquette

  • Jane

    Double check when you forward, check the history of the email, sometimes you want to forward the attached file to someone else and you send it with all the history you chated with the other person. Important information can be use wrong or you can send prices, agreements with one supplier to the competition… done that! and it got me on big trouble with my boss. be careful!.

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  • Guestme

    What is the legal requirement to save company emails? Can I delete and purge whatever I need to? Is the onus on the company to save the email?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I am not sure. I would suggest asking your attorney.