- Send email in plain text - not “formatted” or HTML.
Your font is hideous and your gratuitous spacing is offensive. Don’t even
get me started on background images. Convey your message with punctuation,
letters, words and sentences. If something is *really important* you can use
asterisks, like that.
- Keep it short and to the point - a few sentences is
almost always enough. There are many mantras about keeping your emails to two sentences or three sentences but the point is just
that a shorter and simpler message is quicker and easier to understand for
your reader. Always strive for the minimum.
- Proofread every email at least once - even if it’s just
a “quick” email to a coworker, correct spelling and grammar are not
optional. Your communications with other people are your connections with
the world. Leaving those communications riddled with spelling or grammar
errors only serves to jeopardize your accuracy, dilute your meaning and
destroy the perception of your personal quality.
- Use a signature only with unknown companies - it’s
entirely redundant and unnecessarily noisy when emailing people you already
know, or personal contacts. They already know your name and email address,
they don’t care about your company title, and they don’t need 8 phone
numbers with which to contact you. Most mail clients let you configure your
mail signature based on at least which account you’re sending from, if not
by the person you’re sending to. Use it.
- Use quoting only to clarify a conversation - not as a
huge anchor at the bottom of every email. Many email clients unfortunately
insert the quoted text from the message you are replying to and most people
don’t care, so they type their message above the quote—called “top
posting”—and add to
the madness (sometimes it’s several messages long). If you’re replying
to specific parts of a message, type your response under the quoted part you
intend to reply to and remove the rest of the quote.
Sample Email Exchange
To: John Doe <email@example.com>
From: Jane Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Buy Movie Tickets
Don’t forget to buy the movie tickets before Thursday.
That reminds me—have you looked up the directions to the theater?
To: Jane Smith <email@example.com>
From: John Doe <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Buy Movie Tickets
On July 11, 2008, Jane Smith wrote:
> That reminds me—have you looked up the directions to the theater?
Yeah, I’ve got it all figured out.