Before You Forward an Email

images You know you get too many emails every day. Everyone you know gets too many emails. Here are five guidelines to help you be thoughtful and legal about forwarding emails:

1. Before you forward anything, be sure you have removed ALL email addresses of others, both in the address lines and ones that might be in the body of the document. The privacy of others is as important as your own.

2. Forward only the relevant parts of an email. Much of it may be unimportant to those you want to receive it. Don’t make your readers wade through irrelevant information to get to the core information.

3. Take the time to write a personal comment at the beginning of the email. It can be very brief, as in, “I thought you’d want to see this,” but it’s important. Put yourself into the email and not come across just as a forwarding machine.

4. If you suspect the contents might contain a hoax, always check with snopes.com before you forward. You will save yourself a lot of embarrassment. (It’s happened to all of us who were in too much of a hurry to take this one simple step.)

5. If forwarding a message requires sending it to more than one person, if you don’t use BCC: for each person’s address, you may be divulging private information to people they don’t know. If you choose not to use BCC: have no doubt that all who receive your forwarded message will be OK with having everyone else see their email address. Using BCC: also prevents recipients from clicking on Reply All and bothering strangers with unwanted emails.

One more point: if you want to forward an email that was sent to you privately, you must get the original sender’s permission to forward it, to post it on Facebook or on any other form of social media. Emails we write are our private copyrighted property and we must respect the proprietary rights of others.

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language

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