Seven Rules for Effective Email Communication

I don’t know about you, but I receive more than 100 emails a day. Some are junk emails (discard); some have value (read); some are business related (definite read); some might have value but are so poorly written that I usually delete them. I thought it might be time to provide some basic email etiquette guidelines in the form of 7 dos and 7 don’ts.

7 Don’ts of Effective eMail Communication

  1. Do not use all CAPS as it comes across to the reader as screaming at them. No one wants to be yelled at.
  2. Do not use multi-color fonts. Using fonts with colors like magenta, red, yellow make it hard to read. Not to mention that some readers are color-blind.
  3. Do not use a colored background. Sometimes the text gets lost in the background color and your message is lost.
  4. Do not forward emails directly to multiple recipients. Many of your friends do not want their email address disclosed to other people they do not know. Remember if one of you recipients forwards your email everyone in the To Address block has their email address forwarded.
  5. Do not use non-standard fonts, such as, Comic Serif. They may seem like fun to you but they are hard to read. (see do’s below).
  6. Do not center the Text – it is very difficult to read.
  7. Do not use a subject line that will cause the reader to discard your email. When I get an email with a subject line or a statement in the body of the email that says something like “send this to x number of friends or else…”

7 Do’s of Effective eMail Communication

  1. Proper use of upper/lower case is effective and will lead to higher read rates. Here is an example.  Would you prefer to read – “THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPED OVER THE FENCE” – or – “The quick brown fox jumped over the fence.”? My preference is the non-all-caps.  If you want to emphasize something use BoldItalics, or Underline.
  2. Use only black fonts. It easier to read. Think about the old trick question – “What is black and white and read all over? Answer – the newspaper. Now before you tell me the USA today is a color newspaper I suggest you look at the background color (white) and the text of each article (black) – the color comes from advertisements and photos.
  3. Using a colored background is a definite no-no. Make the main background color white.  Even Amazon has a Kindle White Paper – white background, black text.
  4. Forwarding an email to a list of your favorite friends is usually a bad idea. I send the email to myself and use a blind copy (bcc) for all the other recipients. This protects all email addresses. I also delete the eMail address of the person who sent it to me – I do leave the persons first name and last name initial. This will let your recipients know you did not originate the email.
  5. Use standard fonts such as Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman. The font point should be either 10 or 12. Anything smaller or larger is too hard to read. When I receive an email with a font that is too large and want to forward it, I highlight the text and change it to one of the three recommended fonts and font sizes.
  6. Left justify the text – like a book, magazine, or newspaper – it is easier to read and increases comprehension.
  7. I have often changed the subject line of an email that I forward and I delete the “forward or else” language. I do not like Chain-eMails.

There is a lot more to effective eMail writing and increasing your open and read rates. But if you follow the above guidelines your emails will be more effective than the majority of the emails you receive, create or forward.

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