It’s 2013. Emailing is not a newfangled technology. Yet occasionally, we all manage make an e-mess of things. Let us revisit some basic, yet crucial rules to the art of electronic mail.
AVOID THE ACCIDENTAL REPLY ALL
You’re in a study group for chemistry class. Chuckie, a member of the group, isn’t pulling his weight. Your friend Erin sends out a mass message to the group delegating study guide questions to each member. You unintentionally send the following message as a Reply All:
“Heeeey Erin . . . Maybe we should take care of questions 7-13. Apparently, Chuckie’s dog is addicted to eating chem study guides. I wonder what that dog’s X-rays look like. That poor vet. LOL Chuckie is such a mooch. Do you still have a thing for him or can we finally kick him out of the group?”
Chuckie is embarrassed and upset; Erin is furious at you for incriminating her AND spilling the beans about her crush; and the rest of the group thinks you’re mean. Everyone mutinies against you and tells you to study elsewhere.
EVERYTHING CAN’T BE HIGH PRIORITY
Don’t be the emailer who cried e-wolf. If everything is high priority, then nothing is high priority. The recipient will read your message eventually, so calm down. Here are some email subject lines that legitimately warrant hitting that exclamation point button:
- “How to Apply a Tourniquet RIGHT NOW”
- “Donuts! Cafeteria! Immediately!”
- “Beyonce Tickets For Sale in 30 Minutes!”
And here are some that do not:
- “An E-Card For You!”
- “Some Pics from the Family Reunion”
A well-utilized high priority is very effective. Misused, and it is the bane of the Internet’s existence.
STOP FORWARDING CHAIN EMAILS
You and 320 other people receive an urban legend email from someone you barely knew in middle school. The message warns that if you do not forward this urban legend to 321 people, you will wake up with legs for arms and arms for legs. Don’t fall into this e-trap! I promise your arms and legs will remain intact. And your contact list will thank you.
UNLOCK THE CAPS
The only person who can get away with all-caps is Kanye West. Yes, the caps lock key has its place. It can emphasize words in a way italics and bold cannot. But use too much of it, and the receiver may think you’re yelling at her. Only yell via email when necessary. Let’s take a peek at what a difference that button makes:
“HI GRANDMA, I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU NEXT WEEKEND! I DON’T KNOW WHEN MY FLIGHT GETS IN, BUT I WILL CHECK AND LET YOU KNOW! DO YOU HAVE A BLU-RAY PLAYER? I WANTED TO BRING SOME MOVIES THAT I THOUGHT YOU MIGHT LIKE. IF YOU DON’T HAVE ONE, DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT! WE’LL HAVE FUN NO MATTER WHAT.”
Whoa. Grandma is overwhelmed and concerned about your temperament. The last sentence sounds like a threat. She’s second guessing your visit. Let’s give it another shot:
“Hi Grandma, I can’t wait to see you NEXT WEEKEND! I don’t know when my flight gets in, but I will check and let you know! Do you have a Blu-Ray Player? I wanted to bring some movies that I thought you might like. If you don’t have one, DON’T worry about it! We’ll have fun no matter what.”
Grandma can’t wait to squeeze your face.