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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

Subject Lines

Subject Lines

An email subject line conveys the main point of your email. Try to be as specific as possible. A generalization fails to provide an idea of how important your message is. If your message is time sensitive, you may wish to include a date in your subject line. Consider the subject lines on the email messages that you receive. What kind of assumptions do you make based on the subject line?

  • The subject field is very important and should be precise and brief (Avoid subjects such as “Hi” or “Stuff”)
  • If you're a student, include your course ID and section number (EX: ENGL1113:30 Composition I)
  • Capitalize all the key words (Articles, conjunctions, and prepositions should be capitalized only when they occur at the beginning or end of your subject line)
  • Leaving this field empty is not an option (Email programs often interpret as spam)
  • If your message is time sensitive, include a date

Greetings

Greetings

Always include some type of greeting in your email messages. Don’t begin with your text and stop at the end without a signature. If you’re not sure how to address the person with whom you are communication, try to make some kind of effort. If in doubt, address someone formally to avoid offending the recipient. Some common greetings are:

  • Dear Walter,
  • Hello, Ms. Jones,
  • Hi, Mary,

It is best to determine to whom you are writing, but if you don’t know the name of the person you are addressing, use something generic, but polite:

  • To whom it may concern,
  • Dear members of the Advisory Committee,
  • Hello, everyone,

Headings: CC (carbon copy)

Carbon Copy (CC)

Copying several people on an email message is an effective method to send your message to the main recipient while also sending a copy to additional people. This is a useful tool if you wish to convey the same message to more than one person. In professional settings, copying someone else on an email helps to get things done, especially if the recipient is in a supervisory role. For example, copying your immediate supervisor on an email to a typically nonresponsive colleague may prompt the colleague to respond. Be aware that when you send a message to more than one recipient, everyone can see all the included email addresses. When using the CC field, place only your primary recipient in the To field and all others in the CC field.

 

Headings: Blind Carbon Copy (BCC)

BCC (blind carbon copy)

Using the BCC field to address a group of people is useful when you do not want everyone on the list to have each other’s email addresses. The only fields that everyone can see is the To and CC fields. Do not assume that blind copying will always prevent recipients from knowing who else was copied. Someone who is blind copied may use “reply all” to send a reply, revealing that he/she was included in the original message.

Note: If the BCC field is not visible on your email template, activate it from the drop down menu of the View button on your email program’s tool bar.

Complimentary Closes and Signatures

Complimentary closes and signatures

Your closing is significant because it tells the reader who is contacting them. Always sign off with your name at the close of an email. In business settings, it is common to use a custom signature at the end of an email. Check with your supervisor about what type of signature you should use for your company. Regardless of whether you use a signature, always use something brief but friendly for a specific closing:

  • Thank you,
  • Regards,
  • Sincerely,
  • Respectfully yours,

The signature block typically supplies the sender’s contact information and is located on the left hand margin. The signature block should include:

  • Sender’s name
  • Sender’s title
  • Sender’s business organization
  • Sender’s physical location, phone numbers, and email address
  • A web site address may follow