I have to stop myself sometimes when I fire off an email because I think…”will this be taken the wrong way” or “I should probably say hello first.” These are things we sometimes overlook in this digital world. But it’s important to mind your manners even when writing electronic mail. Every word matters.
For some insight I asked Sharon Troth Gaffney, the founder and creative director at MeebleMail. This is a great idea — it’s personalized email designs. So for stationary freaks like myself — it’s a guilty little pleasure to be able to dress up your emails!
Email Etiquette Checklist
by Sharon Troth Gaffney
I sent my first email on AOL 2.0 in 1994 when my sister was living in Moscow. I remember thinking it was so cool that I could write her a letter and send it half way around the world and she could write back within a few hours, not to mention that it was free. Less than a year later, I was programming a community on AOL and in less than 3 years, email had become the way I communicated at work. Since that time, it’s become the way I predominately communicate with friends, family and colleagues. With the evolution of email came lessons in etiquette and how to use it. Following is my checklist for sending email:
1. DON’T TYPE IN ALL CAPS – probably one of the oldest rules, but I still see people doing it in email, Facebook and Twitter. Typing in all caps is the equivalent of SHOUTING!
2. If you are sending an email to a group larger than 5, BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) everyone, especially important if everyone in the group doesn’t know each other well. An email address is someone’s private information and should be treated that way. A few months ago, a physician I have seen sent an email to all her patients – with everyone’s name and email address visible in the “To” field. When I called the practice to inform them, they were very dismissive, which made me angry – after several emails, they finally called me back and apologized and issued an apology to everyone on the list – this time using BCC.
3. Don’t click “Reply-all” if everyone on the list doesn’t need to know. Does everyone on the list really need to read the congratulations from John on the birth of Charlie’s son.
4. Don’t send junk – Do you really need to forward that joke/urban legend/missing kid scam? Check snopes.com if you’re in doubt.
5. DUSMA – Don’t use so many abbreviations. You’re not limited to a certain number of characters in an email – is it really that much more time consuming to type out you instead of u?
6. Is your email too long? Your email should be well formatted, but get right to the point.
7. Use an informative Subject Line.
8. Did you spell check? I almost hired a PR company for my business – until every email they sent me was full of spelling errors.
9. Did you proof read it? I recently got an email from a local vendor advertising her participation in our town’s Street Fair – her Subject Line read “Annual Street Fail” – Oops! Slow down a little and make sure you get it right.
10. Double check the recipients – make sure that Susan is the Susan you intended to send something to. I once received a confidential email from a corporation for which I was doing some work that was intended for another Sharon – it had very private company information that I should have never seen. I deleted it and alerted the sender, but what if it had gone to someone who shared it with the public? This is something you could lose your job over.
While you may not think you need to be such a stickler when sending an email to your best friends, it’s better to be consistent so that when it’s an email where you need to make a good impression, good email habits are already in place.
MeebleMail was co-founded by Sharon Gaffney in 2010 and grew from her passions for design, style and technology. Since 1995, Sharon has been a professional web developer, designing hundreds of websites for clients such as Bobbi Brown, Al Roker Productions and Vanderbilt University. She was the former owner of net images, inc., a full-service web development company and is a graduate of Auburn University with a degree in interiors and housing.