Email Do’s & Don’ts – Basic Email Etiquette For Beginners

email-do-dontEmail is used for both personal and business communication and is generally much more informal than letters and memos.

There are however a few basic rules/guideline that you should be aware of.

Sending Emails

1. Always have a clear subject never send an email without a subject line.

2. Use the to field for all recipients that may need to act on the email otherwise use the cc field. Use the bcc field for mailing lists

4. Keep emails brief and to the point.

4. If you are sending attachments make sure you attach them before sending.

5 Don’t send large attachments by email. Large is anything above 5 MBytes. See using Dopbox with Yahoo mail

6. Don’t use Return receipt on all email. Only use it when absolutely necessary, and remember it isn’t foolproof. It is better to ask for a reply in the email.

7. Remember email isn’t really private, it can be forwarded and read by people other than the intended recipient. Therefore don’ send confidential information in emails unless you encrypt them. See email encryption.

8. Remember email in corporate networks is monitored, and you should be very wary of what you send.

9. Only send it to people who really need to receive it.

10. Check spelling and content before you hit send.

Replying to Emails

1. Reply promptly.

2. Let people now that their email has been received if they are expecting a response.

3. Generally only Reply to emails that were sent to you, and not copied to you (i.e. using cc or bcc)

4. Do not use the reply to all option unless you really need all recipients get the email.

5. Never use the reply to all option if the email was sent to a large list.

6. be wary of links in emails they may not be genuine.- Phishing scams See basic security

Forwarding Email

1. Generally don’t forward emails. If the person wanted to send it to that person they would have.

2. If you do forward email then you should include your own comment as to why you have forwarded it.

3. Remember attachments are also forwarded unless you remove them before sending.

Read Receipts

If you need to know if someone has received your email then using email read receipts would seem like the obvious solution, and in some respects they are.

However they aren’t foolproof.

Email read receipts are a feature of the messaging system, and need to be requested by the message sender, and confirmed by the message recipient.

They are used to verify if an important message has been read.

If you do not receive a read receipt then you need to contact the recipient using another method.

Whether or not a read receipt is returned or not is completely at the recipient’s control, the sender has no ability to force a read receipt.

It also important to bear in mind that not all email clients are capable of generating read receipts, and they are usually not available for web based email clients like Gmail, Hotmail ( and Yahoo email.

Note: There is a chrome extension called Mailtrack that provides email tracking for Gmail

Requesting Read Receipts

Most desktop email clients will let your request email read receipts for all sent messages, or for individual messages only (preferred option)

If you are using Outlook Express ( Windows Live Mail is similar)

To request a receipt for individual messages In the new message window. Go to :

1.Tools menu Request Read Receipt

To request a receipt for all messages

  1. Tools menu
  2. Click options
  3. Click the Receipts tab
  4. Select Request Read Receipt

Responding to Read Receipt Requests

Email clients like outlook have three main settings as shown in the screen shot below.


When set to always send then a read receipt will be sent, and you will not know it happened.

Ask before sending is the preferred option.

If set to ask before sending then when you receive an email message containing a read receipt you will see a message like the one below when you go to open the message.


If you respond to an email receipt request then the sender will see a message similar to that shown below.


Email Etiquette

Some people find read receipts rude and so it is important that you use them sparingly.

Personally I prefer not to use them, but instead I request an email confirmation if it is important that the recipient has read the email.


Video -Emails: Before You Hit “Send”





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Email Do’s & Don’ts – Basic Email Etiquette For Beginners