One of the most important means of communication we use as students is e-mail. We use e-mail to chat with friends, receive updates from our professors, and contact advisers to schedule meetings. It is not uncommon for a student to have more than ten e-mails each time they check their inbox!
Now that e-mail has become such an integral part of our daily school and career workload, e-mail has its own set of unwritten rules and customs. Knowing these rules and keeping excellent habits with regard to checking, responding to, and organizing your e-mail will help you become more professional and efficient and also protect you from liability in your online work.
The rules and etiquette of e-mail ranges depending on the nature of business at your school or place of work. However, the following rules are a good place to start:
- Be concise and to the point. With so many e-mails clogging up our inboxes these days, it can be taxing to read a long, seemingly endless e-mail. So while your story of why you are going to sign up for Economics 101 may be fascinating, you might want to save it for when you see your professor in person. At the same time, you don’t want to seem too short with someone via e-mail. Even if your answer is a simple “yes” or “no,” write your response into one complete sentence and be sure to add a salutation of some kind.
- Answer all questions. To avoid a constant back and forth, be sure to answer all questions asked in the e-mail to which you are responding. If you have several messages from the same person, be sure to keep the entire thread in your response.
- Use proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar. I know this one might seem simple, but you’d be surprised how many e-mails I receive that include “u” instead of “you” and other text/chat lingo and shortcuts. Do not use chat lingo in your e-mails! Abbreviated versions of words are not only difficult to read, they could also really confuse the older generation!
A few other quick tips: DON’T WRITE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS! (Did you interpret that as a yelling voice? So will everyone else!) Answer e-mails promptly so you don’t leave anyone hanging. Be sure to proof-read your e-mails before you send them! You’d be shocked at the number of silly mistakes I find in mine. Don’t forward chain letters or spam e-mail from your work or school accounts. And lastly…
Try not to overuse the “Reply All” feature. The entire Pathway program thanks you.
by Erin Cohen