Tag Archives: email etiquette

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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Before You Click “Send”

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Most of us have had the horrible experience of discovering one nanosecond after clicking “Send” that we have sent that email to the wrong person. Here is a checklist to help you avoid that and other problems:

1. To make your email sound more human, include a greeting and closing. These can be casual or more formal, depending on the situation.

2. Make sure all names are spelled correctly. You don’t like to see your name mangled; neither does anyone else.

3. Don’t forget to add “please” and “thank you.” These are positive words people like to see.

4. Always use spellcheck, and then always proofread out loud (quietly and slowly) to pick up mistakes spellcheck doesn’t recognize (e.g., “ant” when you meant “any”).

5. Don’t overpunctuate!!!! You want to come across as a professional.

6. Avoid using “Reply All.” We all get too many emails, and “Reply All” clutters up mailboxes with issues that often don’t pertain to the recipient. Be selective in sending responses.

7. If the subject is emotionally charged, after you write your reply do not send it immediately. Do something else. Later, reread your answer and make certain it is responsive to the email you received. If you are satisfied that your answer is appropriate, go ahead and send it. If you’re not sure, either wait awhile longer or else rewrite your response.

8. The last step before sending is to check the TO: field to be certain your email is going only to those you want to see it.

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Some More Email Tips

UnknownRecently, I gave you some tips on writing emails and asked for your input. Here are some suggestions from Loren L., with some additions from me, that I think you’ll find helpful.

1. Prompt response—Promptly responding/replying to an email directed to YOU is the appropriate thing to do.Reply when asked.

 2. Greetings and salutations—Common courtesy implies a greeting and salutation in any communication or interaction.  Greetings and salutations are appropriate for many emails.

3. Use names—Address the person and sign your name.  This is basic common courtesy.

4. Subject line is a summary of the message.  Keep your messages short and focused.  BLUF=Bottom Line Up Front

5. Use appropriately the TO: CC: BCC: FW: Reply: Reply All

TO—Identify the person or people intended to receive and to reply to the email message.  A prompt reply shows respect.  A short “Thank you” shows class.  Courtesy means if someone sends you a note, a reply is appropriate.

CC—Don’t use CC to copy your message to everyone, only to those who need to receive the message.  A CC message does NOT require a reply.

BCC—Use for sending “bulk” email.  It keeps private people’s email addresses.  A BCC does NOT require a reply.

FW—Should be used sparingly, not just to pass emails along.

Reply—Include the original email sent to you in your reply.

Reply All—Avoid use of this option. Use Reply instead. Using Reply All often fills others’ email accounts with information they neither want nor need.

6. Emails are never private. Never be unkind or hurtful. If you’re not willing to see your message on the front page of tomorrow’s New York Times, don’t put it in an email; it can be forwarded to multitudes in a second.  As a general rule, never put unkind words in writing.  Don’t send emails when you are upset.  No flaming.

7. Upper case should be used to HIGHLIGHTimportant words or phrases only. In general, make your words give the emphasis. Any highlighting, such as upper case, bold, italics or underlining, should be used very sparingly. If you emphasize everything, you end up emphasizing nothing.

8. Avoid email abuse. Don’t send unnecessary or uninvited material.

9. Build relationships.Use the phone or make a personal visit.  Email is not a substitute for personal contact.

10. Use “Out-Of-Office” toolsor Auto Reply if you’re going to be absent for a while.

Finally, always re-read your email before sending it—slowly and audibly so you can hear what you actually wrote, not what you think you wrote.

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About BCC:

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Have you ever received an email from an unfamiliar name but with a subject line you recognized? Chances are someone sent out an email to a lot of people, including you, but instead of addressing it using BCC (which is a blind copy), that person used either TO or CC. Some other recipient of that email wanted to respond to the sender, but instead of clicking on Reply clicked on Reply All. Because of that, every person on that list got an email that very likely they cared nothing about. We all get far too much email, and these annoying responses  that do not concern us only add to the problem.

The other problem with using TO or CC instead of BCC  is that it reveals your email address to many people, some of whom you might not want to have it. Unless every person receiving this email needs to see who else is getting it, do your readers a big favor and use BCC.

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