The Papyrus Files — Using email like it’s 1999
We’ve all read email tips over the years. Tons of them. You’d think we’d all know basic email etiquette. Most of us do. And yet. In an age where we’re all sending and receiving hundreds of email messages a day, make it really really easy for someone to do what you want them to. For example:
1. Set a signature with your full name, your address, your email address (this doesn’t always come out if a message is forwarded) and your phone number. Set the signature on your Blackberry or other PDA. Set the signature to appear on replies and forwarded messages in addition to messages you compose. Don’t leave someone hunting for your information (or having to send an email solely for the purpose of getting this information).
2. Include a descriptive, specific and meaningful subject line. I get a lot of requests with the subject line “Review Copy Request.” Now, this isn’t inaccurate, but when you have one person looking through dozens of messages daily with this subject line and one message with “Review Copy Request from Businessweek for Bad Money by Kevin Phillips,” which message do you think gets read first?
3. Do not include an attachment unless it has been requested. Everyone’s been saying this for years, but I still routinely get clips / flyers sent as (unsolicited) attachments. Since they are clips, they are invariably over 1 MB and sometimes as large as 8 MB — now that’s just downright *rude.* They are deleted. Without being opened. Ever.
4. Do not use all capital letters in a message or in a subject line. Everyone’s been saying this for years too (and we now all know that all caps is the electronic equivalent of shouting), but I still see messages and subjects all in caps.
5. Include the message trail when you respond so people know what you’re talking about.
6. When you’re emailing in a professional capacity, do us a favor and skip the cutesy spiral binding/ legal pad / winding ivy / tartan backgrounds. Not that I’m not as big a fan of winding ivy as the next person, but have you noticed that when you respond to these messages your text comes out in a weird color and size? More importantly, these backgrounds are interpreted as attachments, which means these messages can get trapped by spam filters and even if they make it through the filters, they take longer to open when one is accessing email remotely as so many of us do some (or all) of the time.
It’s easy to ignore an email message. Don’t make it any easier.