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Email Etiquette: 26 Rules to Follow


The rules of email etiquette are not "rules" in the sense that I will come after you if you don't follow them. They are guidelines that help avoid mistakes (like offending someone when you don't mean to) and misunderstandings (like being offended when you're not meant to). These core rules of email etiquette help us communicate better via email.

(Updated July 2011)

1. Take Another Look Before You Send a Message - Email Etiquette Rule

Don't send anything you don't want to send.

2. Do Not Default to "Reply All" - Email Etiquette Rule

"Reply" is good. "Reply to All" is better. Right?

3. Keep Emails Short - Email Etiquette Rule

Do not intimidate recipients with too much text.

4. Properly Format Your Email Replies, and Be Lazy - Email Etiquette Rule

Do you think quoting original text in your email replies perfectly is a lot of work? Don't let the '>' intimidate you! Here's a very comfortable, relaxed, quick and still clean and compatible way to reply properly.

5. Write Perfect Subject Lines - Email Etiquette Rule

Do you make these mistakes in your email subjects? (The key to getting your messages read is not to be clever.)

6. Clean Up Emails Before Forwarding Them - Email Etiquette Rule

Forwarding emails is a great way of sharing ideas, but make sure the original idea is not hidden in obfuscation.

7. When in Doubt, Send Plain Text Email, Not Rich HTML - Email Etiquette Rule

Not everybody can receive your fancily formatted emails. Some may even react furiously. To be safe rather than sorry, send plain text emails only when in doubt.

8. Don't Forward Hoaxes - Email Etiquette Rule

Email hoaxes often contain stories that are intriguing, and sure to irritate. Here's how to spot and stop urban legends.

9. Use Antivirus Software, Keep Up to Date, Scan for Free - Email Etiquette Rule

Make sure you're not spreading worms and viruses via email or act as a vehicle for spreading spam. All this can be caused by malicious emails. Fortunately, there's protection.

10. Explain Why You Think What You Forward Will Interest the Recipient - Etiquette

More and better communication makes better relationships. Here's a way to spot and share relevant information and foster ties by forwarding emails and links.
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