Business Electronic Mail Etiquette
E-mail is increasingly replacing the interoffice
memo as the primary means of business communication. But all too often,
correspondents don't follow the same common sense rules with e-mail as
with printed memos. In fact, business e-mail should be more carefully
constructed than paper mail because e-mail can be easily forwarded,
attached to another message or kept indefinitely in an electronic filing
cabinet. Now let us consider some of the basics of business e-mail
- Construct your copy list on a need-to-know basis.
Be careful in using large distribution lists for highly focused topics.
- Use formal language (with complete sentences,
business letter formats and correct spelling) and a well-thought-out
structure when communicating with senior management or customers.
Remember, an e-mail message helps to create an image of you and your
- Avoid large attachments if at all possible.
Background documents of interest to a subset of the recipients can be
put on your intranet.
- Be prompt in responding to action items.
Acknowledge an accepted action item with an e-mail response even if you
can't get to it for a while.
- Avoid e-mail wars. Take personal conflicts
offline, and handle them privately.
- Use auto response messages to notify
correspondents if you are out of the office or on vacation and won't be
able to read messages.
- Put meaningful data in the subject field. Many
users are responding to information overload with filters and
- Don't use e-mail to highlight negative thoughts
about senior management. It can be too easily forwarded or misaddressed.
- Observe common practices within your
organization. Every organization has a unique culture, and this also
applies to e-mail etiquette.
In summary, e-mail is a powerful business
communication tool and an effective means of gaining visibility, if it is
used properly. The above guidelines should help you better realize the
benefits of business e-mail.
From University of Virginia, Medical
Center Computing - Email Etiquette page.
© 1998 by the
Rector and Visitors of the
University of Virginia