Email Courtesy

  • Make your Subject field meaningful.
    • Let the recipient know what your message is about.
    • Well-chosen words in the Subject field may help your message get attention sooner.
  • Know your audience.
    • Use a more formal tone if you do not personally know the recipient.
    • Check beforehand to see if a recipient is interested in receiving material that some might consider annoying; e.g., jokes, political messages.
  • Be concise.
    • Keep an email as short as possible.
    • If it must be long, break it up into paragraphs with headings that the reader can scan quickly.
  • Don’t reproduce an email message in full when responding to it.
    • Select only the parts that you want to answer.
    • However, do not edit quoted messages to change the overall meaning.
  • Be careful about forwarding.
    For details on this subject, see Forwarding individual messages.
  • Check your email regularly and respond promptly.
    • Ignoring a message is discourteous and confusing to the sender.
    • Always reply to an email, if only briefly, to let the sender know you received it.
  • If a message is important, follow up.
    • Never assume that a message you sent has been read.
    • Follow up an important message with a phone call if a reply is overdue.
  • Don’t spam.
    • In the context of email, spam means electronic garbage.
    • Sending junk email (e.g., advertisements, chain letters) to a group or to someone you don’t know is considered “spamming.”
  • Don’t “flame.
    • A “flame” is an inflammatory or overly critical response to an annoying message (e.g., spam, controversial statement, incomplete information).
    • If you do get flamed, it’s best to just ignore it.
    • Responding to a flame can escalate into a “flame war.”
  • Don’t use ALL CAPS.
    • This is the online equivalent of shouting.
    • Avoid using a string of capital letters in your correspondence unless absolutely necessary.
  • Be patient.
    Wait before re-transmitting a message or sending a follow-up message.
  • Keep your signature lines short.
    • Large signature blocks (more than four lines) are generally considered rude.
    • NC State prohibits the use of personal quotations or personal statements in employees’ signature blocks (Computer Use Regulation, section 2.11).