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ARCHIVED: What are some guidelines for email etiquette?

Here are some suggestions for using email tactfully, gracefully, effectively, and safely:

  • Don't send confidential or secret information (such as credit card information, Social Security numbers, or passwords) through email. Email messages are more like postcards than sealed letters; they pass through many computers to get to their destination.

  • Never use email to harass others or otherwise use it in such a way that it will bother people. Limit the number of email messages you send and save.

  • Don't send email to large groups of people who might not be interested in your message. Never send spam mail, and remember that any form of chain mail is illegal.

    If you do legitimately need to send email to a large number of people, place all but one of the addresses in the blind carbon copy ("Bcc:") field of the message. If the addresses are on the "Bcc:" field rather than the "To:" or "Cc:" fields, a reply to the message will go only to the original sender, not to the entire list of addressees. When replies do go to all of the original addressees, each reply is also considered a mass mailing. For more information, see What is IU's policy concerning mass mailing via email?

    For more about how to use the "Bcc:" field, see:


  • Pause before you send an email message you might later regret. Avoid personal attacks (in Internet parlance, flames) on others. A good general rule is: If you wouldn't say it to a person's face, don't send it.

  • Identify yourself in the body of your message, especially if your username is something like joe29. Using a signature is one way to do this.

  • Include information in the subject line of your message to help recipients decide when (and whether) to read your message.

  • When you reply to a message, include an excerpt from that message. Your reply will make more sense. However, if the message is long, don't excerpt the entire text, especially if all you are posting is a short response.

  • Body language and tone of voice don't come across in email. Be more careful than you are in conversation. Don't type in all capital letters; YOUR MESSAGE WILL LOOK LIKE YOU'RE SHOUTING!

  • Don't send messages you wouldn't want forwarded (at least not without a "For your eyes only" notation).

  • Think before you forward! Do you have the sender's permission?

  • Learn the difference between replying to a whole group of users and replying to just the author of a message. Does everyone in the group need to read your response?
This is document aemp in domain all.
Last modified on December 28, 2010.

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