Email Netiquette

 Email Netiquette

What is Netiquette?

Netiquette or Internet etiquette is the code of behavior established for communicating on the Internet. Good netiquette is the proper and respectful way of conducting communications in an online environment.

What is the most important principle of Netiquette?

The most important principle of Netiqette is to follow your common sense, as well as the moral and social principles that guide you in your face to face communication. Remember that applying the golden rule (“Treat people the way you would like to be treated!”) works online as well as offline. Just because you don’t see someone online does not mean that he or she should be treated with less respect.

Any examples?

Responding to e-mails in a timely fashion is one of the keys to good online manners. Interestingly, this simple rule gets neglected by many people. Instead of waiting for days or weeks to respond, make it your own personal rule to respond within anywhere from two to twenty four hours. If you are busy running outside of your office most of the time, allow some quiet time at the end of the day to deal with e-mails. Even if you are not able to provide a detailed response right away, it is very appropriate to acknowledge the receipt of an e-mail and indicate when your response can be expected. This will demonstrate respect for the other party.

What are the DON’Ts of proper online conduct?

– Don’t type with in all capital letters or with grossly enlarged fonts for emphasis. This is considered to be the equivalent of shouting or yelling;
– Do not misuse the cc: (carbon copy) when e-mailing. Do all copied people really need to know about the details of your correspondence with others? If not, do not waste their time!
– Do not misuse the bcc: (blind carbon copy). The primary purpose of b.c.c. is to send group e-mails so that those copied cannot see each other’s e-mail addresses;
– Don’t overreact. Try not to hurt people’s feelings. Think twice before sending an e-mail or before posting. Keep in mind that when you’re having an online conversation, it is easy to misinterpret the  meaning. If you still want to address a certain problem, deal with it discreetly; certainly do not copy everyone in your correspondence! For emotionally sensitive issues, it’s best not to even send an email. Get on the phone or meet in person instead;
– Avoid misusing the “Reply to All” button. Not everyone should receive everyone else’s response;

– Avoid an overly long email signature. A couple of lines maximum is sufficient. You don’t have to put every social media profile or accomplishment you have ever done!

The DOs of Netiquette?

– Respond to e-mails in a timely fashion (as mentioned above);
– Use a signature at the end of your e-mail or post but keep it very brief;
– Respond to people using their names;
– Keep the tone of your e-mail positive; make it a polite conversation, rather than a formal letter;
– Focus on one topic per each e-mail message. Send separate e-mails for each different topic;
– Clearly summarize your message in the subject line;
– Share with others various online facts, stats, and links that are related to your business.  The Internet is all about sharing!
– Pay attention to who you put in the “To” line, and who in the c.c. line when sending group e-mails.  Those who are in the c.c. line are not expected to respond but they may if they want to;
– Seriously consider whether email is even the appropriate approach! For quick updates, maybe a phone call or a direct message through a social platform is better than e-mail;
– Don’t expect an instant response; expecting others to have the same priorities as you at all times is not realistic;
– Use auto-response when you are away on holiday or on the weekend if you don’t expect to be checking and responding to emails.

Still not sure whether or not you should follow the above tips? Does Netiquette really matter? Well, it doesn’t, unless you care about your personal reputation and your own brand.


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Cyri Jones teaches at Capilano University and BCIT and is the co-founder of ZEN Launchpad. He blogs at  Ivan Surjanovic is a marketing faculty at Capilano University and CEO of . He blogs at  and tweets on

Written by Dr. Ivan Surjanovic and Cyri Jones, 
adapted from BizTech101 column in Business in Vancouver

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