Top 10 Things to Keep in Mind While Writing an Email

Posted: August 16, 2006 in Top 10's
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This is one of the most popular topics discussed over and over again. There are lots of websites out there that talk about email etiquette, and what you should or should not do when writing emails. In this post, I include the top 10 things that I think matter the most while writing an email (in no particular order). This is from a very personal perspective.

  1. An email that you send represents YOU, and YOU are totally responsible for everything in it. Before sending an email, picture yourself saying the contents of the email to the recipient over the phone. If you think you can’t say it over the phone or face-to-face, don’t say it by email.
  2. Include a proper and relevant subject that describes the contents of the email. Subjects like “Important” or “Urgent” and not good enough.
  3. If you get an email that requires a reply, make sure you reply to it in a timely manner. If you are busy and cannot read it immediately, reply saying that you’ll get back to them, specify a time when you’ll do that, and stick to it.
  4. Do not forward an email without reading, verifying, and totally agreeing with its contents. Again, this relates to point number 1. Once you forward an email, you are responsible for everything in it.
  5. Do not send very large attachments, unless the recipient is expecting them.
  6. Do not send any critical information by email (credit card info, confidential work data, etc.).
  7. Before hitting the “send” button, read your email once more, and make sure it does not contain any offensive phrases (even if they were as a joke). The recipient cannot see your face to know that you are joking, unless he/she is a very close person. In informal emails, use smiley faces to convey your emotions throughout the email.
  8. When communicating in a thread of emails (a series of replies concerning the same topic), do not include the whole communication every time. Just quote the parts that you want to reply to.
  9. Do not forward chain mails, no matter what the content is.
  10. Use the BCC field when you want to send to a group of people who don’t (and shouldn’t) know each other.

Again, this list is by no means an exhaustive one. Feel free to comment if you disagree or if you have something else to add to the list.

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