Email Etiquette 
By: Scott Hendison   ·   Published: December 2002


Many people get dozens if not hundreds of e-mails bouncing through their mailboxes daily, and the ones that aren’t spam can sometimes be just as annoying as the spam.   With e-mail being such a big part of many people’s lives, there are some general guidelines that everyone needs to follow, and I’m just the guy to tell ‘em to you.


First, don’t write in ALL CAPS. It’s hard to read, you can’t inflect any emotion. If something actually is REALLY important, then what would you type? Most people get told this by someone at sometime, so don’t feel bad if you’ve done it.


You should also put a SUBJECT in every e-mail you send. And not the SAME subjects each time, either, like “Hi”. Many people file and refer back to their e-mails and replies, and they’ll sort by subject to find messages. Messages with no subject get lost.


Also, most people by now have learned to have their name displayed to others when sending e-mails. It’s courteous to announce yourself by name, instead of by an obscure e-mail address. Having just an e-mail address in the “from” line might make people be more inclined to delete your mail unread, assuming its just spam.


To fix that in Outlook Express, go to tools – accounts – mail tab and highlight the account name (default) – then hit the properties button. Type your name in

“User Information”. That is what will actually be displayed to the reader before they open your mail.


Email addresses are like phone numbers. Everybody has one, and not everyone wants theirs published. When you mass forward messages, jokes, false virus rumors etc. you should be careful not to give out your friends addresses to everyone else. This can be easily accomplished by using the BCC option instead of putting everyone in the “To” or “CC” field.


BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy. BCC allows you to send a message to multiple people without them seeing everyone else’s address. Normally though, when you create a new mail message, you’ll see only the “TO” field, and the CC field. To make the BCC field appear in Outlook Express, just create a new mail message, and go to the “view” pulldown menu, and select “all headers”. In Outlook, choose view-BCC field. That’s it. After that, the BCC field will always appear.


You’ll still need one address in the “To” field, and everyone will see that one. For sending out my article/newsletters, I always type my own address there.


Finally, don’t mess with all of the system defaults for your “reply to” e-mail options unless you understand what you’re doing.


There is a logical way an e-mail correspondence is supposed to take place.

I write to you, you write me back, I reply back, etc.  When you read it, everything I say is there, with your text below mine by default. My last reply is below that one, and your last reply below that one etc. Many long conversations and business dealings can be carried on this way, with the nice bonus of complete documentation for referral purposes.


Have you ever gotten an e-mail in reply to one of your own that just says “Great, let’s do it on Wednesday.”?  Then, if you don’t recall exactly what “it” is, you have to go digging through your “sent” mail folder for the original.


For some reason software designers have given you the option of screwing things up. In your e-mail program you’ve come across your options before, I’m sure. In Outlook Express, it’s at Tools – Options. Go there now.


At the SEND tab, you’ll see some basic options that are pretty self explanatory, but for some reason, they’ll let you UNcheck the box that says say “include original text in reply”.  Even more puzzling, some people actually do UNcheck that box. Why? Don’t you want anyone to know what they said previously?


Also in the mail options of some programs is the ability to place your own reply BELOW the senders reply. Why in the world would you want to do that? It completely makes nonsense out of your e-mail sequences to everyone else.

I’ve seen e-mail communications that have bounced around through three or four people, and one user can screw up everyone’s ability to read the messages.


Scott Hendison


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