E-mail Etiquette

Easy Does It

Several options make e-mail more convenient for you and your recipients.

  • Use settings and preferences. Look for an e-mail package that lets you select specific settings and preferences that affect all your e-mail activity. This way, you won't have to repeat steps every time you send a message.
  • Include your real name in your return address. Suppose you received a message from "12345.678@abc.com." How easily could you determine the sender's real name? Unfortunately, some e-mail providers assign users "nonintuitive" names such as this.

To help the recipient quickly and easily identify you, set your "return address" to include your real name as well as your e-mail address.

  • Use a signature file with your messages. As an e-mail recipient, you might want to see more than just message text and a return address from a sender. For instance, you might also want to see the sender's telephone number and mailing address.

Most e-mail packages allow you to include this information through a "signature file." To do so, you simply use word processing software to create and save the address information you want to appear on every e-mail message you send. Then go into your e-mail software and specify at the appropriate menu the name of the file you created in the step above.

Most e-mail packages have a "preferences" menu where you would type in this information, as well as specify your return address as described earlier.

After completing these steps, you need only create and send a message to a recipient. Your e-mail package will automatically attach your signature file information to the end of each message.

Test your changes by sending a message to yourself. To make the test valid, treat yourself as an external recipient; that is, include the "@xxxx.yyy" domain name information in the address. Doing so ensures your message reaches you via the Internet.

  • Use the "subject" line. By doing so, you allow the recipient who is pressed for time to quickly select and read only the messages that are important to him or her. Also, limit each message to a single subject.
  • If you are testing your e-mail, inform your recipients. As a courtesy, put the word "TEST" in the subject line to save the recipient from having to open the message.

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This article was originally published in the September 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: E-mail Etiquette.

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