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Email Etiquette

This libguide includes tips about email etiquette for students and professionals. In the age of digital technology, it's important to maintain clear communication

Determining when email is the appropriate form of communication

Determining when email is the appropriate form of communication

Email is an effective method to communicate in a professional setting; however, it is important to determine whether email is the proper method in which to communicate:

Email is effective in the following instances:

  • You need to reach someone who is difficult to reach via telephone
  • You need to reach someone outside of the immediate area
  • The information you’re sharing is not time-sensitive
  • You need to deliver an electronic file
  • You need to deliver information to many people quickly
  • You need to maintain a written record of communication

When email is NOT appropriate

Email is NOT effective when:

  • Your message is long and complicated
  • Information is strictly confidential (EMAIL IS NEVER PRIVATE)
  • Your message is emotionally driven or could be easily misconstrued

WHO is your audience?

Who is your audience?

There are many different opinions regarding the form and content of emails, so always be aware of your audience’s expectations. Some people view email as a rapid form of communication; however, others consider email as a more convenient method to transmit a formal letter. You may send a message to your friend, such as:

            Hey, Walter,

            Do u know where y’all r meeting?


That is fine for a friend, but obviously, you wouldn’t send such an email to your instructor, supervisor, or a business associate. Carefully consider the assumptions that a reader may make about a message. Making assumptions about your audience’s expectations increases the possibility that your message or its tone may be misinterpreted. To ensure that your message is received with its intended effect, ask yourself the following questions to help you consider your audience:

  • Who is your audience?
  • How often does your audience use email for communication?
  • How comfortable is your audience with using electronic communication?
  • What is your audience’s relationship to you?
  • What kind of impression do you want to make

Remember that email is NEVER private, so carefully evaluate what you write in an email.