10 things to watch out for when...Using e-mail for business purposes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 June, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 June, 2001, 12:00am

Mind your language

E-mail by nature is an informal means of communication, but spelling and grammar rules still apply. Sentences should be short and to the point.

Avoid gimmicks

Excessive and incorrect use of punctuation is annoying and unprofessional!!!!!!!!! Emoticons have a small place in the casual world of e-mail, :-), but you run the risk of being over-cutesy, ;-(, or misunderstood, @?-?-. They are best avoided in the business context. Do not mark something unimportant as high priority.

Signature tricks

Automatic signatures need to be brief and informative. Include your company name, phone number and job title.

Size matters

Not all e-mail systems can cope with vast files and coloured fonts. Attachments can carry viruses and it is best to inform the recipient if you are planning to send any.

Time constraints

Acknowledge receipt of expected e-mail or those requiring future action. Many people check e-mail once a day, so a last-minute change of plan or time-sensitive information should be communicated by telephone.

Subject line

Always use a subject line which places your communication in context. Be specific.

Return to sender

Re-sending unwieldy documents by simply pressing the reply button is unnecessary. To keep a conversation in context, edit the file to include only pertinent quotes or questions. Do not reply to a full list of recipients in a forwarded mail.

Use upper and lower case

Never send e-mail only in upper case. Capitals can be interpreted as rude and give the impression that you are SHOUTING, ANNOYED or just plain BRASH.

Trash the trash

Unsolicited jokes and photographs are unacceptable in the business context. Ask before you put anyone on your mailing list, no matter how well you know them.

Personal still wins

All e-mail carries the risk of being read by someone other than the intended recipient. Save sensitive or private discussions for face-to-face communications.

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