For 19 years, Seton Hall professor Dr. Dennis
Jerz has been maintaining a list of best
practices for email. The most recent updates
underscore the distinction between email and
social media conversations. Social media
allows us to chat informally with people we
usually know; email is largely a business tool,
so it’s important to use it in a clear, concise,
Jerz and his colleagues have identified the top
strategies for writing effective emails, here are
a few of them.
Write a meaningful subject line.
Give your reader a concrete reason to open
your message. A clear subject line will help a
busy professional to decide that your email is
Be kind. Don’t flame.
Think before you click “Send.” If you find
yourself writing in anger, save a draft, go get a
cup of coffee, and imagine that tomorrow
morning someone has taped your email
outside your door. Would your associates and
friends be shocked by your language or
Don’t assume privacy.
Email is not secure. Just as random
pedestrians could reach into a physical mailbox
and intercept envelopes, a curious hacker, a
malicious criminal, and your IT department can
probably read any and all email messages in
your work account. If it’s not worth the risk,
then don’t put it in an email.
If you want to appear professional and
courteous, make yourself available to your
online correspondents. Even if your reply is,
“Sorry, I’m too busy to help you now,” at least
your correspondent won’t be waiting in vain for
Show Respect and Restraint
Many a flame war has been started by
someone who hit “reply all” instead of “reply.”
While most people know that email is not
private, it is good form to ask the sender before
forwarding a personal message. If someone
emails you a request, it is perfectly acceptable
to forward the request to a person who can
help — but forwarding a message in order to
ridicule the sender is tacky.
Be tolerant of other people’s etiquette
blunders. If you think you’ve been insulted,
quote the line back to your sender and add a
neutral comment such as, “I’m not sure how to
interpret this… could you elaborate?”
For more tips and examples, check out
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P.S. Here's a joke for you!
What was forest gump's email password?