Email Etiquette

Computers in the classroom have made teachers more accessible than ever thanks to email. Communication with colleagues, parents, and others has been made much simpler and efficient.  In this Technology Tip we want to review some basic guidelines for good email communication.  These tips are derived from three sources that you might want to check out on your own: 10 Rules of Email Etiquette for Teachers at PLBEmail Etiquette for Students from Purdue12 Tips for Better Email from Microsoft Office.

For Teachers (and other professionals):
  • Professionalism: Use language that projects a professional image to your audience.
  • Confidentiality: Be respectful of personal information and delicate information. Remember that a follow-up phone call or personal meeting is always an option.
  • Efficiency: Simple emails that get directly to the point are always more successful. Be concise and to the point.
Some other things to remember:
  • Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar. It's OK to be a little informal in a email, but don't be sloppy.
  • Make sure it looks good. Use a professional font (times new roman, arial, or helvetica are probably trhe best choices). It should be easy to read your message. Don't use all capitals, symbols, abbreviations, or emoticons in formal communications.
  • Remember that email is NOT private. Digital copies of your message will exist online for a very long time and unlike an old fashioned letter, the text of your emails can always be searched for a key words or phrases. Such searches could be conducted by your employer, the email service provider you are using, or even the government.
  • Careful with tone in an email. When we communicate face-to-face 70 to 90 percent of the communication is non-verbal. Unfortunately, in an email things like sarcasm, jokes, double or hidden meanings can often be confusing. Try to avoid them.
  • Don't Forward Junk Mail. Messages that are probably fake, full of rumors, urban legends or just advertisements should just be deleted. We have a good technology tip about Zaping Email Legends (Tech Tip #143) that can help you separate fact from fiction.
Finally, for more email advice, here's and article about "netiquette" by L.J. Allen:

PRACTICE ACTIVITY:   Just think about your own email usage for a few seconds.  Are there any emails you wish you had never sent? 

TO KEEP ON LEARNING:  To find out more about the best practices to use when writing email try searching the internet for:

Effective email
Email netiquette
History of email