Monday, September 29, 2008

Send better emails

At least before, an important thing students were taught was how to right official or business letters. Now, a big part of that kind of correspondence goes via email, but no-one seems provide any teaching in sending emails.

Here’s a bit of email etiquette, given to the journalism trainers’ workshop on Saturday.

Think before you write, not when you write.

Keep it short.

Remember to break your message into short paragraphs. Handle one topic in each paragraph.

Put a blank line between paragraphs. This makes it easier to read.

Write proper sentences. Use correct language. Start every sentence with a capital letter. Use full stops and commas when needed.

Don’t SHOUT! (meaning writing everything in capital letters)

Choose appropriate subject line. You might also change the subject line when replying. ”HEY READ THIS E-MAIL!!!!” is not a good subject line. Neither is ”HELLO!”

Use Reply All if appropriate, or add others to the CC: field. But don’t use Reply All, if you are just replying to the sender.

Think twice before sending attachments, especially big ones.

Don’t flag all your email as important.

After finishing writing, before pressing the send-button, read your mail once again to double-check that you have explained your point clearly and others understand your message correctly. Is there any room for misunderstanding? Did I miss explaining certain issues that others do not necessarily know?

Important! Do let people know that their message has been received. Sometimes emails get lost because of overeager spam filtering, or people move to other jobs and change their email contacts. If it’s not obvious to the sender that you have received the message, do send a quick note back, maybe just an informal ”thank you”, to acknowledge receipt even if no reply is otherwise necessary. Even if you do plan to reply later, an email acknowledging receipt and letting the sender know when you will get back to them can be welcome.

This was partly based on a list of email rules provided by my friend, Dr. Matti Kinnunen and also another web page with the name Top 10 Most Important Rules of Email Netiquette. Thanks to Matti and Heinz.

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