Presented here are simple guidelines for email etiquette. They do not mandate any particular style or rules: they attempt to highlight important issues affecting the clarity of the email we send.
- Check email regularly and reply promptly. If a solution is going to take time, send a brief response to say the email is being dealt with.
- If you forward an email for someone else's response, inform the enquirer and tell them who they should expect an answer from.
- Keep messages brief, usually no longer than two screens.
- Make the "Subject" of your message meaningful; it will improve the chances of it being read (and located when filed).
- Restrict emails to one subject per message; send multiple messages if you have multiple subjects.
- Take care over content, factual accuracy and presentation; take time to check through your message before sending.
- Common courtesy is important. Consider the "tone of voice" your words could imply, and avoid writing anything that could be construed as rude or curt.
- When replying or forwarding with comments, include some of the original message for context, but be selective; don't reproduce the entire original email if it's a long one.
- Send only plain text in the body of the message. Although email software may allow you to format your emails (particularly as HTML) it's best to assume that your recipients' email software can only handle plain text.
- When emailing attached files (attachments) include the name and the format of the file in the body of the email. If attachments are large (typically media files), get your recipients' permission before sending to avoid choking their email accounts or internet connections.
- Ensure that emails target the correct audience. Select the recipient group with care and don't blanket email large groups inappropriately.
- Use the "Reply to All" option sparingly; if your reply is only of interest to the sender, send it just to him or her.
- Respect the privacy of others by not disclosing private email addresses or contact details.
- Use only a simple email signature giving your name, title, contact details and department web address. Do not use the University logo or any other graphic in your signature as this increases the size of the message and the time taken to scan it for viruses. In many cases recipients will not be able to see it correctly.
- Email is about communication, so clarity should be your goal.
- People other than the addressee may see your message; compose it with that in mind.
- Always acknowledge text extracted from others and ensure you make clear any changes to other people's text, otherwise you may be plagiarising or misrepresenting them.
- Emails are subject to English Law on written communication, including defamation, copyright, obscenity, fraudulent misrepresentation, freedom of information, and wrongful discrimination. The disclaimers often included at the foot of an email may offer no legal defence.
- Emails sent bearing your University email address are equivalent to sending letter-headed University correspondence. They reflect on the reputation of the University and may be interpreted as representing its views.