The increase in the amount of people across the Internet that are using e mail has resulted in a new way of communicating, with emerging implications and results that a new user might not be aware of. This document contains some hints that will put you "in the know" and keep you out of what can become some sticky cyber situations.

Email Etiquette Do's

  • Be Concise. One of the many luxuries of email is its ability to answer a question or communicate a thought in a more quick and informal manner than a letter or a phone call. Keeping emails short helps to keep email more productive. Attention may drift if emails are too long.
  • Avoid "Flames". "Flames" are inflammatory or critical messages. Avoid sending junk emails, emails with insufficient information or any other email that might trigger an upsetting response from the recipient.
  • Use asterisks to highlight a key word or thought for emphasis (i.e. thank you *very* much). Use asterisks only when necessary to highlight a point as overuse of asterisks may make the sender seem insincere.
  • Use Threads. Threads are a series of responses to an original message. It is helpful to, rather than start an entirely new message as a response, continue with the thread by pressing "reply" to the messages until the communication is complete. Keeping the thread information together makes it easier for the participants to follow the chain of information that has been exchanged.
  • Avoid Spamming. Spam, when used in reference to email, means electronic garbage. Sending junk email (such as an advertisement) to anyone you don't know or posting to a newsgroup or a LISTSERV is considered "spamming". Avoid this annoying practice.

Tip: to minimize the appearance of long distribution lists, send your intended email message to yourself (To: and blind courtesy copy (BCC: all other recipients of your email message. Each recipient of your email message will see only his or her name at the top of the email message.

Email Etiquette Don'ts

  • Use ALL CAPS. This is the online equivalent of shouting. Don't use a string of capital letters in your correspondence unless absolutely necessary.
  • Repeat Messages. Sending the same message to the same recipient more than once can be perceived as pestering a person. It is courteous to give recipients a chance to respond to a previous message before re-sending the original message. Many people send and receive email at regularly scheduled times of the day only.
  • Overuse Mail Distribution Lists. When you're sending a message to many people, a long delivery list may appear at the top of the message. This can annoy readers. It also can make your message seem like junk mail.