Pet Peeves of email mis-steps!


For those of us who have been using email for a good while you probably have seen some persons do some really strange things in email.  There have been times I’ve wanted to call someone to let them know there is such a thing as “email etiquette.”  I think it is time to have a new “law”….No one should be given an email account until they can demonstrate they will not do any of the following:


  1. To Whom Am I Speaking? Sometimes I have absolutely no idea who’s sending me an e-mail, and this can be a problem. If you have a cute or funny email name, be sure you clearly identify yourself somewhere in the email. 
  2. Don’t share. If you and your live-in (spouse, significant other, whatever) use the same e-mail address, stop it. Extra e-mail addresses are free and consolidating e-mails into one mailbox is confusing.
  3. Use a signature line. Make life easier for me: Add a signature line with your name and e-mail address using the hot-linked format. It’s easier to reply just to you if your e-mail was sent to many people; it’s also great for when I forward your e-mail–the new recipient doesn’t have to cut and paste your address.
  4. Use your real name. Don’t get me wrong, I love your The problem is, I haven’t a clue who you are. Be considerate and add your real name in the signature line. And a favor? Don’t use initials.
  5. Do I Need to Read This Right Now? Look, I’m a very busy man (or so I tell my wife and others), and I get tons of e-mail every day. I need to do e-mail triage–you know, scanning the inbox for the hottest messages and reading them first. But honestly, I can’t do this with most e-mail I get. So here’s what I recommend: The subject is… Tell me, clearly and briefly, what your message is about in the subject line. And make sure you don’t trigger my spam filter by using all capital letters, exclamation points, and words you typically see in junk e-mail, like "free," "spam," "mortgage," or "Viagra."
  6. Use a summary in the first paragraph. Give me a one- or a two-sentence overview at the start of your e-mail. "I have a complicated issue," you might start out, "involving a _____________. If you have time to help, I’ve provided details below.’
  7. Your Point Is? Once I actually open an e-mail, I need to get the point quickly so I can reply to the sender if necessary, and then move on to the next one. But lots of the long drawn out emails I get are, how to say it, a mess.
  8. Use paragraphs. Obvious…right? Nope. I get e-mails with one long paragraph the length of the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament. Break it up into three or four smaller ones.
  9. Use numbering. If you have more than one question or point, number them. It makes replying a whole lot easier if I can refer to the numbers. Subject shorthand. When you reply or forward an e-mail, it’s helpful if you stick one or two descriptive words in front of the original subject so the recipient has an idea of what’s in store. For instance, I use tags such as "Update," "Confirmation," or "Really Dumb." Miscellaneous Gripes Think I’m done kvetching? Nope, no such luck.
  10. Attachment don’ts. Don’t attach anything executable–period. If on the off chance I’ve asked you to send a program, stick it into a zipped file.
  11. Keep it private. Don’t reply to a mailing list with "great idea" or "I agree." Reply privately instead. Select a small part of the original message for context’s sake. Stay plain, Jane.
  12. Avoid fancy formatting, gaudy colors, and flowery backgrounds. Two reasons: first, what’s cool on your monitor might look terrible on another system; and second, that extra coding increases the download time for folks with slower connections. Some fancy stuff is good, but don’t over do it!
  13. Email Merging:  If you can’t use mail merge properly, don’t.  I hate receiving email that says “Dear {Insert Name}:
  14. Use the BCC field for your friends and family list. Don’t reveal all of the email addresses of your friends and relatives.  It is too easy for I.T. savvy person’s to “harvest” those email addresses for nefarious purposes.  If other recipients need to know who else received the note, then list them in the body of the email.  (Yes, I know I have not always followed this, but usually there is a specific reason for revealing the email addresses of the others who are receiving it.)
  15. Forwarding a forwarded note ad infinitum.  Please don’t forward a forwarded note of a forwarded note of a forwarded note.  When you see something you would like to share; copy and paste it into a new email.  AOL users are especially prone to send an email with an email with an email with an email!  Aarrgh!  I don’t like attachments and normally will delete email with attachments.


Well that about does it.  I feel better now.  Don’t you?  Please feel free to post a comment on this subject right here on my blog.  If you feel I am way off based, let me know.  If, however, you agree or have other pet-peeves with regard to email, let us know.  There were nearly 2,000 page views on my blog last month so you may even get a response to your response.


If you have other gripes about email mess-ups, please send them be sure to include a Subject Line, a Summary and clearly identify yourself! 😉


P.S.  If you would like training on some of these issues, we’re available!  And we’ll try to be pleasant.