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An Appropriate Email: Email Etiquette & Netiquette Lecturer: Stephen Why is email etiquette important? We all interact with the printed word as though it has a personality and that personality makes positive and negative impressions upon us. Without immediate feedback your document can easily be misinterpreted by your reader, so it is crucial that you follow the basic rules of etiquette to construct an appropriate tone. The elements of email etiquette General format Flaming Writing long messages Delivering information Attachments Delivering bad news The curse of surprises Electronic Mailing Lists General Format: The Basics Write a salutation for Use caps when each new subject email. appropriate. Try to keep the email Format your email for brief (one screen length). plain text rather than Return emails within the HTML. same time you would a phone call. Use a font that has a Check for punctuation, professional or neutral spelling, and look. grammatical errors General Format: Character Spacing Try to keep your line length at 80 characters or less. If your message is likely to be forwarded, keep it to 60 characters or less. Set your email preferences to automatically wrap outgoing plain text messages. General Format: Lists and Bullets When you are writing For example, directions or want to 1) Place the paper in drawer emphasize important A. points, number your 2) Click the green “start” directions or bullet your button. main points. Another example, • Be punctual in Stephen’s class. • Don’t skip Stephen’s class. General Format: Tone • Write in a positive tone • Use contractions to add “When you complete the a friendly tone. report.” instead of “If you (don’t, won’t, can’t). complete the report.” • Use Emoticons: smiles • Avoid negative words , winks ;), and other that begin with “un, non, graphical symbols only ex” or that end with when appropriate. “less” (useless, non- existent, ex-employee, undecided). Emoticons Letting other people know how you really feel isn't always easy. Faced with this problem, the early devotees of electronic bulletin boards began using simple punctuation marks as a way to express their moods and feelings to each other while online. Emoticons - originally known as smileys - are facial expressions or gestures made by using a certain series of keystrokes to produce an image. Emoticons !-( Black eye :( ) Loudmouth #-) Wiped out, partied all night :+( Got punched in the nose #:-o Shocked :,( Crying %-( Confused :-@ Screaming :-] Big Smile Emoticons :-D Laughing >>:- >:- >:-( Annoyed |-D Big laugh :-X My lips are sealed; or a kiss :-| Indifferent, bored or disgusted :/) Not funny : ( Sad ; ) Wink =:-) Punk P* French kiss 8-O Astonished Emoticons 一一” ( ︶︿︶)╭∩╮ Orz What else? General Format: Addresses Avoid sending emails to more than four addresses at once. Instead, create a mailing list so that readers do not have to scroll too much before getting to the actual message. To: email@example.com Attachments When you are sending an attachment tell your respondent what the name of the file is, what program it is saved in, and the version of the program. “This file is in MSWord 2000 under the name “LabFile.” When your message is long Create an “elevator” summary. Provide a table of contents on the first screen of your email. If you require a response from the reader then be sure to request that response in the first paragraph of your email. Create headings for each major section. Elevator Summary and Table of Contents An elevator summary Table of contents should have all the main “This email contains components of the A. Budget projections for email. the last semester “Our class fund last B. Actual expenses for the semester was not last semester enough. As a result I am proposing budget C. Adjustment proposal adjustment for the D. Fund collection for this upcoming semester…” semester Delivering Bad News Deliver the news up front. Avoid blaming statements. Avoid hedging words or words that sound ambiguous. Maintain a positive resolve. Delivering Bad News Deliver the news up front: Avoid using “weasel words” “We are unable to order or hedging: new computers this “Our pricing structure is quarter due to budget outdated.” cuts.” More examples of hedging Avoid blaming: are: “I think it will be hard to Possibly, most likely recover from this, but Perhaps, maybe what can I do to help?” Writing a complaint • You should briefly state • Show why it is critical for the history of the the problem to be problem to provide resolved by your reader. context for your reader. • Offer suggestions on • Explain the attempts you ways you think it can be made previously to resolved or how you are resolve the problem. willing to help in the matter. Writing a complaint Briefly state the history: Show attempts made by “The current way we you thus far to resolve the issue: choose officers for our organization is not “I have offered two alternatives for officer democratic. As a result, selection that still we have a popularity involves the votes of the contest that does not members but both have always get us the best been rejected by the candidates.” executive board.” Writing a complaint Show why it is important for your reader to get involved: “This is a problem for two reasons. First, I am concerned that the executive board no longer protects the interests of the organization and that their actions are not in keeping with the constitution of the organization. Second, there have been a number of complaints from the members who feel that their concerns and preferences are not being addressed by the executive board, which decreases morale and productivity.” Writing a complaint Ask for help and offer a resolution: “Please let me know what other options I may have overlooked. I am willing to meet with the department head and the executive board to seek out a solution that is fair to the members and is good for the business of the organization. ” Do not take your reader by surprise or press them to the wall • Do not wait until the end of the day to introduce a problem or concern via memo or email. • Avoid writing a litany of concerns that you have been harboring for a long period of time. Taking Professors and TAs By Surprise Be sure you have permission to communicate with your professors via email. Complaints about grades and projects should generally be discussed in person. Post your concerns or questions in a timely manner. Flaming in emails • Flaming is a virtual term • Flame fights are the for venting or sending equivalent of food fights inflammatory messages and tend to affect in email. observers in a very • Avoid flaming because negative way. it tends to create a • What you say cannot be great deal of conflict taken back; it is in black that spirals out of and white. control. Keep flaming under control • Before you send an Read your message email message, ask twice before you send it yourself, “would I say and assume that you this to this person’s may be misinterpreted face?” when proofreading. • Calm down before responding to a message that offends you. Once you send the message it is gone. Example of Flaming Messages Flame/Inappropriate Message Not A Flame/Appropriate Message “This project really sucks, and I “This assignment came at a tough cannot believe that he is making time. I wasn’t expecting so much us do this. I feel sick and tired of work. I cannot wait till the end of the all these dumb assignments. He semester.” needs to get a life!” Responding to a flame Empathize with the Avoid getting bogged sender’s frustration and down by details and tell them they are right if minor arguments that is true If you are aware that the If you feel you are right, situation is in the thank them for bringing process of being the matter to your resolved let the reader attention know at the top of the Explain what led to the response problem in question Apologize if necessary When Email Won’t Work There are times when you need to take your discussion out of the virtual world and make a phone call. If things become very heated, a lot of misunderstanding occurs, or when you are delivering very delicate news then the best way is still face- to face. For more information References: – firstname.lastname@example.org – http://owl.english.purdue.edu Netiquette Thank you for your attention!
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