E-mail Netiquette

By Debra Wheatman

On March 9, 2009

In Interview Tips

About networking




Why is it that communicating online is such a challenge? The minute we get in front of email, we rattle off messages that are unclear, with typographical and grammatical errors. Why is writing an email different than writing a letter? (a lost art at this point) How many times have you written an email with the aforementioned problems, but other issues as well? Have you ever gone back and read an email and thought to yourself “That didn’t sound very nice.”

What about people who use things like c u l8r, ttyl, and lmao? How about the emoticons? These things might be ok if you are emailing a friend. In business though, it is unprofessional.

No doubt communicating via an online method is difficult. You cannot use facial expressions or body language that would otherwise be present if you were standing before someone. Or if on the phone, you have the benefit of conveying emotion in your voice.

Here are some tips to help you communicate effectively online:


  1. Make sure that your message is clear. Include a subject line so the reader has a sense of what the topic is.
  2. Don’t send emails when you are angry. You are more likely to say something that you shouldn’t. Once committed to ‘paper’ your messages can precipitate a string of back and forth interactions that fuel the equivalent of an online argument.
  3. Don’t communicate in all capitals. In the online world, this is the equivalent of yelling.
  4. Edit your messages before sending them. It is better to be short and sweet when sending email. You have a better chance that the full email will be read and your message communicated. Anything more than a few lines should really be done via phone or in person.
  5. Be careful about what you send in email. Information sent online is very public; others can access it. There is no such thing as a deleted email.
  6. Business communication is business – whether in an email or a formal memo and should be treated as such. Leave l8r for later.

Email is a great way to communicate when used properly!



Comments and feedback are requested and desired; and you are welcome and encouraged to submit questions to thecareerdoctor.

Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC is the founder and Chief Career Strategist of ResumesDoneWrite, a premier career services provider focused on developing highly personalized career roadmaps for senior leaders and executives across all verticals and industries.

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