Can you remember a time when you didn't use e-mail to get things done? How did we manage our businesses for so long without it? With the rapid adoption of e-mail as a major means of business communication, somewhere along the way Internet etiquette or "netiquette" got lost.

Here are a few quick tips for making your professional e-mail count:

  • Keep it short. Put your main point or question at the top of the e-mail, then add no more than two brief, supporting paragraphs. If the recipient has to scroll through more than once to read your e-mail, it's probably too long.
  • Include references. If you're responding to someone's e-mail, include an excerpt of their e-mail. Only insert the parts of their e-mail that you're directly responding to so they can see what you're referencing in your response. Don't include their entire e-mail in your reply if possible.
  • Compose relevant subjects. The subject heading of the e-mail you send can be the key to getting your e-mail read quickly and understood immediately. Try to create a subject for your e-mail that says it all in six words. As you begin to e-mail back and forth with someone else, alter your subject to reference the contents of your e-mail if it begins to change from the original subject.

These simple e-mail tips work for both business and personal electronic correspondence. Remember: Clarity is the key.

Aliza Sherman is an entrepreneur and author of Cybergrrl: A Woman's Guide to the World Wide Web (Ballantine Books). She is currently working on her next book and new company.