Email Protocol

Since we all deal with so many pieces of email everyday, I think it’s important to be able to use it efficiently and effectively. Many people don’t use email in a professional capacity very often because their job doesn’t call for it; if this is you, it might be helpful to go over the basics of appearing professional in email. Here are some tips:

1. Make sure your display name is YOUR name. (This is the name that pops up in the recipient’s inbox.) It is incredibly annoying to see the name “John Smith” in my inbox… open it up and start reading a query for a sweet romance, wondering why this guy John is writing women’s romance, then get to the end of the letter and have it signed, “Mary Smith.” You need to have your own email address that you don’t share with anyone. It doesn’t matter what the actual email address is, as long as the display name is your first and last name. I’ve harped on this before because it seems so obvious in a business context, and yet so many people don’t get it.

2. Put something appropriate in the subject line. You don’t need your name there; that’s what the display name is for. When figuring out your subject line, imagine your recipient needing to file that email and then easily access it later. The subject line should be something BRIEF that will help the person recognize the content of the email. Don’t be too generic, i.e. “Quick Note.” Be more specific: “Update on my manuscript” or “Query: Romantic Suspense.”

3. Get to the point quickly. Again, in the interest of being kind to your recipient, keep your email as brief as possible, while avoiding being too curt. With most people in business handling dozens to hundreds of emails a day, this is becoming more and more crucial. But at the same time…

4. Make it personal. Include a real greeting and a nice closing. If you like, a brief bit of small talk is also appropriate and helps to keep your email from seeming terse or demanding. (“Hope you enjoyed your holiday” or “Appreciate your help!”)

5. Clearly state what you need from the recipient if you need a response. Don’t write a six-paragraph email with questions sprinkled throughout, and expect your reader to find and answer them. Make it easy for your recipient to understand what’s expected of them.

6. Use real English. This should go without saying, but in business correspondence, avoid “texting” abbreviations and lazy shortcuts like refusing to capitalize and punctuate appropriately. Write in complete sentences, and don’t use ALL CAPS.

Your turn: What are some other tips you have for email? Is there anything people do in email that really annoys you?

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Leebox on December 11, 2011 at 2:20 AM


    Fantastic blog post, saw on…

  2. Wendy Saxton on February 22, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    >According to Michael Hyatt, you should never make multiple requests that do not fall under the same subject category.

  3. Anonymous on January 29, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    >ups sorry delete plz [url=].[/url]

  4. Suze on January 22, 2010 at 8:17 AM

    >Before moving to the US, I spent a brief period of time recruiting for a major European airline. They were offering a management program at a fairly good salary to university grads.

    At least 40-50% of these brand spanking new grad applicants answered essay questions using text vernacular and unsurprisingly, the guy with the email address: 'crazybast**d13@hotmail, wasn't deemed a sensible pick for an airline, and didn't get past the screening process.

    I think maybe the universities aren't necessarily teaching their students how to behave in the business world. Sigh. It was different in my day.

  5. Gwen Stewart on January 21, 2010 at 6:23 AM

    >Hi Rachelle,

    I'm late to this post, but great tips. And please forgive elementary teachers. We make warm-and-fuzzy connections all day long; it seeps deep into our consciousness and we lose sight of the fact that normal people don't gush for two paras before they get to the point. And the smilies…oh, dear. We use those after every sentence. Drives my business-professional hubby crazy.

    (A funny related story: a friend of mine entered the business world after twenty years of teaching in a daycare. After a meeting, she leaned down to tie a business executive's shoe. She was mid-tie before she realized what she was doing…and they never let her forget it. You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can't teach them to stop tying shoes. Or using smilies…..LOL)

  6. myimaginaryblog on January 21, 2010 at 3:26 AM

    >I think emoticons are a very useful shorthand in casual email and online conversations, and I use them a lot to indicate tone. But they are just that, a casual shorthand, and in business correspondence I would never use them. Like someone else said, if we're writers we should be able to find ways to convey tone using words alone.

  7. Mira on January 21, 2010 at 1:30 AM


    That was well said, and you have some good points. I may, for example, be creative at work at times, but, nonetheless, I comply with work culture. Of course. I want to keep my job.

    I'm mulling this one over, though. Writing is more complex.

    But it's late, and I'll continue to mull it over. 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts.

  8. Mandy Muse on January 21, 2010 at 12:00 AM

    >@Mira –

    You said:
    "…writing is absolutely not about business….The business culture is very controlled, predictable and polite. Art is wild, original and honest…Is it worth it to try to play the game if it means that what I express through my art becomes watered down?"

    Writing/art is one thing. Doing business related to our writing/art is yet another. Our creativity and originality is wild and original and honest, but our ability to connect with people who can help us share that art with the world is based on clearly and politely communicating.

    If we were athletes, would we expect to conduct all business conversations in the gym? Would we expect agents to sign us and corporations to ask us for endorsements wearing sweaty gym shorts and bare chests?

    Neither should we take our modes of expression that are right and appropriate for the studio into the business world.

    Especially since we are writers, and not visual artists or musicians, it is important to indicate that we understand there is a time and a place for wild creativity and a time and a place to exercise our skills at communicating in a way that can be received, and more importantly, a way that says, "I am a mature adult human who can do business and won't make you crazy."

  9. WhisperingWriter on January 20, 2010 at 11:32 PM

    >Thank you for this. I need to check to make sure my e-mail has my name. I can't recall if it does.

    I'm with you, I hate when people use all caps. A friend of mine used to do that and one day I kindly reminded her that caps meant that she was yelling. She was all, "Does it? I had no idea.."

  10. patriciazell on January 20, 2010 at 9:14 PM

    >My pet peeve is the forwards people send–most of them are time wasters. I'm really not interested in chain letters, funny lists, etc. So, I think a good rule of thumb is to keep business e-mails strictly professional.

  11. Anonymous on January 20, 2010 at 9:11 PM

    >Speaking of subject lines, is it helpful to use the title of your ms. as the subject or better to list the category, e.g. Historical Mystery or Techno-Thriller or what? Now the title isn't working for me and I wonder if it's best to be more generic? I used to get same-day requests and now it's nada, not even an e-jection. Seems that "e-mail etiquette" should work both ways.

  12. Bill Peschel on January 20, 2010 at 8:15 PM

    >Here's one I use whenever I can: the End of Message (EOM) sign.

    Say you only want to say one brief thing, such as "Thanks, I'll get right on it."

    Type it in the message line and end it with (EOM). Then repeat it in the body of the note.

    Tech-savvy e-mailers who recognize (EOM) will realize you just gave them the entire message in the message line. They can delete your message without having to open it, and sign praises unto you unto the third generation.

  13. Terresa on January 20, 2010 at 6:48 PM

    >I get annoyed when people have a vague or unspecified "subject" line. It about drives me nuts.

    Great, helpful post I just may forward to a few friends who need it!

  14. Peter Stone on January 20, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    >Thanks for this practical post.
    One thing that drives me crazy is when my friends are duped by these 'chain' emails of 'real' stories, which I quickly debunk by checking an email hoax site.

    Also when people do not quote my email's original text in their reply, leaving me having to hunt for my email to remember what on earth they are talking about.

  15. Tami Boesiger on January 20, 2010 at 2:45 PM

    >I'm not crazy about people adding little sideways smiley faces and such or the emoticons.

  16. Matilda McCloud on January 20, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    >Good list. I appreciate brevity. Sometimes I get a three-word email and that's fine with me. My husband sends me a lot of one-word emails ("Ok"). Nice and succinct!

    Re personal emails. I delete all chain emails, even those that make me feel guilty. Ditto jokes, cute stories, etc. I don't have the heart to tell people not to send this stuff, but I find these emails annoying.

  17. Cranky Old Hag on January 20, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    >I can't believe there are still people who WRITE IN ALL CAPS. Shouldn't everyone have gotten the memo by now, caps is shouting online. It always makes me wonder if those people write in all caps by hand as well? Like a 5-year-old just starting to learn?

    @T.Anne: I disagree about the subject line. If the emails are still on the same topic, I NEED the subject line to stay the same, or I lose track of the "thread".

    I really dislike people who start a new email every time, even when actually replying to a previous one. However, I equally dislike people who don't "clean up" email convos, especially if they contain automated signatures (esp. signatures with images), and partial or full email headers; i.e. useless text not relevant to the discussion at hand.

    @hipphop: I totally agree! I HATE ending up in a 50+ people TO: field. Don't expose my email to all your Facebook "friends", kthnxplz?!

  18. Dana on January 20, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    >Great advice everyone. I sent an email (important one) with all caps in the subject line. The second I sent it, I said, "oops, that was rude. Thank goodness I have a father that taught me the ropes and friends on Facebook that said, "stop yelling at me!" when I told them something in caps. So glad I know better now.

  19. hipphop on January 20, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    >My BIGGEST email pet peeve is people who don't understand when to use the BCC field. Nothing aggravates me more (and will get you email blocked by me) then when someone sends out a bulk email to a giant group of people and puts everyone's address in the TO field. You are not only exposing your colleague's personal address to all, but also exposing addresses to spam harvesting bots… its also just tacky.

    The only thing that is worse is when someone "replies to all" afterward.

    Its the 21st century people:
    TO: is for a single individual
    CC: is for any secondary person that you want to be privy to the message (great for small group invitations)
    BCC is for big messages to many people.

    Protect your friends! Don't be a jerk!

  20. Southpaw on January 20, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    >Oh how I wish more people would follow these few simple rules.

  21. Rachelle on January 20, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    >Dave: I have that same situation, the all-encompassing, "Can you help me get published?" I created a form letter that includes lots of links to places on the web to find publishing information, Amazon links for books on publishing, ways to find agents, etc. I make it clear that it is going to take a lot of homework to get comfortable with how the business works. (Email me & I'll send you my form letter!)

    I think all highly visible authors such as yourself should have a very kind, nicely worded form letter that can be used in this case. I know Mike Hyatt recently blogged about all the form letters he keeps stored in his computer, with different subject matters, so that he can give people the courtesy of a response but only spend a matter of seconds on it.

  22. Jess on January 20, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    >These are great! I'd add that the subject line, also, should not be ALL CAPS. And if you ask a question, one question mark suffices (e.g., Don't do this: "Are you sure about that????").


  23. Dave Cullen on January 20, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    >Here's the one I find most frustrating, which I'm getting a lot lately: the vague, all-encompassing question.

    I'll get an email with a few sentences on the writer's situation–I wrote a nonfiction book and now I'm struggling with the book proposal–and then, "Can you give me any advice?"

    Not really. I have no idea what sort of problem you're having.

    Sometimes I'll tell them to start with a book on book proposals, and suggest one, but I got an email this week with that very question, but the person said she had already looked at the books. Hmmmmm. So why is it not working? And am I going to be more helpful than an expert on book proposals who spent 200 pages on it?

    A little specificity would go a long way.

  24. Jana Dean on January 20, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    >I agree with Ed Eubanks, numbering questions is useful. Here at my day job we would respond by copying the list of questions into our response and reply to each item using a contrasting font color.

    From a corporate perspective, I've been advised to always first walk down the hall and try to catch someone in person. If you can't talk in person, make a phone call, and if that is not an option, only then email.

    That is my company culture. It won't apply to everyone, but I like it.

  25. Dave Cullen on January 20, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    >Thank you.

    The big one for me is the subject line. I get 100 real emails a day and can't process them all at once. It's impossible to find them without a good label.

    I discovered how important this was to my editor when he called looking for one old email of mine and thanked me for usually having subject lines that really helped.

    The scattered questions is a biggie, too. That kind of email also suggests the person has given no thought to how receivers process them. Few receivers start answering questions as they go, because you have to get the whole picture first. Then we are supposed to go back looking?

  26. Carol J. Garvin on January 20, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    >The immediacy of e-mail allows us to write something quickly and hit that send button before we've proofed the message and/or reconsidered our response. I think it's wise not to send a message the instant we finish writing it but leave it for at least five minutes, then re-read before sending. It's too late to have regrets after it's been sent.

  27. Cynthia Schuerr on January 20, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    >Hi Rachelle,

    Thanks for this great list.

    I have received emails that have been sent back & forth many times and the subject is no longer the subject. If the subject of the email changes, please change it in the subject box or start a fresh email.

    That is one of my pet peeves. The rest are on your list.

    Thanks so much,

  28. T. Anne on January 20, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    >Great tips! Also if there have been several back and forth replies, maybe start a new title rather than keeping "re; re; re; that thing". It's OK to start fresh.

  29. D. Antone on January 20, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    >I'll second what has been said about colored fonts.

    Proper spacing between paragraphs is a big one for me. I don't like receiving a wall of text. I tend to break my messages up more than I would in a regular document. I think it helps the recipient sort through and answer my message more easily.

  30. Nathan on January 20, 2010 at 12:02 PM

    >Do they teach business emails in school now in the same way they used to teach business letters?

    With this kind of medium, new for a great many people who are just coming to use it for business purposes, they simply do not know.

    At first I was transferring what I'd learned about business letter writing directly to email writing, and then came to find out that there were more specific guidelines for emails that I was missing.

    Is there a standard form yet, or is it still based on individual preferences of the recipients?

  31. Anonymous on January 20, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    >Sorry, Rachelle! I tend to dash off blog posts late at night. I'll be more careful next time, especially when dealing with agents.

  32. M. Rose on January 20, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    >I admit, I've been guilty of forgetting to capitalize on occasion, though I try to scan through and double check everything before hitting send.

    A few additional comments:
    (1)If your email is sexykitten so on and so forth it tends to not matter whether you have your full name attached to the email as spam filters might (and most likely will) pluck it right out of the email stream and into the spam box.

    (2)Think before sending an email, especially if it's an emotionally charged response. Save the email, walk away, and come back to it. I've been guilty of sending off the emotional response rashly and that is never good.

    (3)DO NOT (yelling intended) forward to all if you have been using your email as both a personal and professional platform. Nothing is less professional than sending all the agents you queried in the past "fw: Cuddly kittens to brighten your day!"

  33. Sandy at God Speaks Today on January 20, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    >My contribution to the list would be to acknowledge the e-mail promptly. If someone took the time to e-mail me, professional or otherwise, I owe them a response. Even if that response is, "Thanks! I'll look this over and get back to you in a few days."

    When submitting to publishers, I find it confusing as to how to proceed if my e-mail is met with complete silence. How do I know if the publisher received it?

    Seriously…do I e-mail again? Do I call? Do I wait? How long?

  34. Dara on January 20, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    >I definitely echo ALL of these, especially the "use real English" one. Even my supervisors have a horrible habit of writing incomplete sentences that make no sense no matter how many times I read them through.

    Oh and another point–please limit the use of periods to ONE. I don't know what it is, but a few co-admin assistants feel the need to put a dozen periods after each sentence. And no, I'm not overexaggerating there. It's quite annoying.

  35. Dominique on January 20, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    >That's a great list and very helpful.

    My pet peeve with emails is when they are sent in ridiculous fonts or colors that make it hard to read.

  36. Timothy Fish on January 20, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    >Roxane makes a good point about conveying emotion through e-mail; I’ve had my share of trouble. But as writers, that should make us pause to think. How is it that we can bring a reader to tears, make her laugh or cause her to fear going into a darkened room through our stories, but then we can’t manage to convey the correct emotion with our e-mail, short of sticking a smiley face after a sentence?

    I think it is because we don’t take the time to phrase the reader enough. Instead of beginning with, I really liked this, this and this, we begin with this is wrong, wrong, wrong. We jump to the point we wish to make with no indication of how much relevance we’re putting on the statement. In our eyes, it may be a minor issue, but by leading with what is wrong, we make it appear that it is the most important thing. Even if we intend it as a joke, it will never come across right if the reader thinks we are criticizing him. Rather than sprinkling out e-mails with smileys to soften the blow, maybe we just need to correct the underlying problem.

  37. Mira on January 20, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    >E-mails are tricky. It is very easy to say the wrong thing. It's also easy to hit the 'send' button too quickly.

    One interesting point that always comes up for me in these discussions…well, I don't know if other writers deal with this, but for me writing is absolutely not about business. In fact, it's the complete opposite.

    The business culture is very controlled, predictable and polite. Art is wild, original and honest.

    I've been looking for a compromise, but I'm not yet convinced even that is the right way to go.

    Frankly, I'm worried. I find myself bending to the pressure to conform with business protocol on these blogs. I'm wondering if that's the best thing for me as a writer. Is it worth it to try to play the game if it means that what I express through my art becomes watered down?

    I just don't know yet.

  38. Roxane B. Salonen on January 20, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    >I've been scolded by a writing mentor for putting smiley faces in my emails, and one or two may have even made it into a professional email or two, but certainly not on first contact. This would have been after a few exchanges and when I felt I had a bit of a casual rapport going. Still, now I'm paranoid because she was really stern about it. I've mentioned it on here before, though, that I love smiley faces. I think it's because it is so hard to convey emotion through email, and even before email I used to use smiley faces in letters. Hard habit to break but I do try to be cognizant of using them appropriately. 🙂

  39. Timothy Fish on January 20, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    >Rachel Menard,

    I suppose that depends on whether you are writing to a guy or a girl. But seriously, it still doesn't matter because in an e-mail client like Outlook, it is your display name that is visable and unless your display names is also, it is going to show up as Menard, Rachel in the client. Unless someone takes the time to check the more detailed information contained in the header, that's all anyone will see.

  40. Rachel Menard on January 20, 2010 at 9:46 AM

    >Rachelle Said:
    "It doesn't matter what the actual email address is.."

    But if your email is sexykitten23(at) or something, you may want to set-up a new account.

  41. Anonymous on January 20, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    >As a query reader, I'm annoyed when the information our agent has requested is not included in the email.

    Standard queries are 3-5 paragraphs, but some people have the salutation, one sentence saying the summary follows and then they sign it. If you want to be in this business, please learn to query properly and other tools of your trade.

    Other times, it says nothing at all in the email and the attachment is called 'query'. These get deleted without being opened, a waste of time for both of us.

  42. Sharon A. Lavy on January 20, 2010 at 9:39 AM

    >Good points Rachelle. I shall check my email's more closely.

  43. Timothy Fish on January 20, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    >Where I work, we have been strongly encouraged to append either "[ACTION]" or "[INFO]" to the subject line so that the recipient can quickly see whether the e-mail is going to require him to do something or it is just to keep him in the loop on something.

  44. Author Sandra D. Bricker on January 20, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    >I admit it. I'm the person who would send all of my emails with no subject line … except … A couple of months ago, a writer bud said to me: "Sandie. We email a LOT. Can I ask you a favor? Please start using subject lines! I can never go back and find one if I need to."

    I mentioned it to another friend who added, "I'm so glad she said that to you! It's so annoying!"

    So I'm trying to turn over a new leaf. Really, I'm trying. So, yes. My name is Sandie, and I'm a speedy gonzales.

  45. Joanne on January 20, 2010 at 8:39 AM

    >Always err on the side of professionalism. Tone is tricky to convey in email, more so than in written letters. So short and clear, and always professional, works best for me.

  46. Rachelle on January 20, 2010 at 8:35 AM

    >Anon 1:34: In business correspondence, keep it to a minimum. Some people don't even know what the acronyms mean so you just come off as rude and disrespectful. I found even reading your blog comment annoying, Using "e's" for email, w/ instead of with, ampersand, ellipses, and "biz" instead of business. If that were a business email I'd think you were lazy and unprofesssional, unless you and I were good friends.

    Jon Paul: Automated signatures are a great idea, and a good way to include pertinent information in every email.

  47. Linda Banche on January 20, 2010 at 8:33 AM

    >some formatting tips I've found:

    1. Hit the "return" key only at the end of a paragraph. If you hit return in the middle of a paragraph, your email may look nice to you, but your recipient will have breaks in odd places, making the email hard to read.

    2. Avoid the fancy graphics in business email. Different mail servers interpret characters different ways, and what looks good to you may look like character soup to your recipient. Save the smileys and bolds for personal email.

  48. Tamika: on January 20, 2010 at 8:26 AM

    >I agree it's important to display business etiquette, especially for the purpose of building quality contacts.

    A few years back my husband and I shared an email address, we seperated in that respect and things are flowing nicely.

  49. Scott on January 20, 2010 at 8:18 AM

    >Forget the fancy fonts, colored text, and all caps. I've received emails from clients in bold and all caps, which basically means, in email terms, the client was shouting at me. The client didn't realize that's what all caps has come to mean in email. Simple and precise is the best way in an email, at least for me.

  50. Shelby on January 20, 2010 at 8:17 AM

    >Number one thing that annoys me in email is ALL CAPS.. especially when sprinkled in with bolds and underlines and italics.

    I don't like being yelled at in email. It's a very good indicator of personality.

    The good part of that is that I learn who to avoid.

  51. Rick Barry on January 20, 2010 at 8:08 AM

    >I'm afraid that texting and social sites like Facebook (yes, I have one) are eroding this generation's understanding of professional correspondence. Back in the days of inserting a blank sheet of paper into an IBM typewriter and typing a letter to an agent or editor, no intelligent author would have dreamed of getting too chummy or folksy with an unknown business professional. Nowadays the attitude of many seems to be "Hey, this is the real me. They should like me for who I am!"

    On the other hand, perhaps professional writers should be thankful that so many wannabes discredit themselves with silly-looking emails. After a torrent of emails that resemble first-grade spam letters, a decent professional query must shine like a diamond.

  52. Jessica Miller Kelley on January 20, 2010 at 7:52 AM

    >These are all good thoughts. Another seemingly-obvious tip: make sure you get the recipient's name right. My last name is Kelley, and I cannot count the number of e-mails I get that say "Hi Kelley," or "Dear Kelly." This is especially frustrating when the person is replying to a message that had my signature clearly stamped at the bottom, and the person could not take a moment to distringuish my first name from my last or to spell my last name correctly.

  53. Timothy Fish on January 20, 2010 at 7:44 AM

    >I would add, Make it Scanable. Even with relatively short e-mails, it is sometimes helpful to provide Bold text or headings that highlight the key points and sections of the e-mail so that the reader doesn’t have to read the whole thing to get the point. Even if he does read the whole thing the first time, he may want to go back to it later and find a particular paragraph rather than reading the whole thing again.

    I really hate seeing texting abbreviations and smiley faces. That isn’t just e-mail. That goes for blog comments too. Too many people are rolling in the floor laughing at things that aren’t even funny. Besides, the proper practice is to write out the words of the acronym the first time it is used, unless it is so commonly used that the actual words aren’t needed to understand it, such as NASA. But really, if you’re going to Laugh Out Loud (LOL) or Roll On Floor (ROF), do it in response to someone else’s joke, not your own.

  54. Elena on January 20, 2010 at 7:21 AM

    >Putting pictures or something in an e-mail that takes forever to load. I usually just delete it without reading.

  55. Laura Pauling on January 20, 2010 at 7:02 AM

    >If you are upset with someone or totally annoyed, it's better not to use email to tell them. Words are harsh and cold and always come off less friendly than you intend. Written emails have no facial expression, body language or tone of voice – the reader might not pick up your subtle sarcasm or they'll take it the wrong way. Laura

  56. Linda Adams on January 20, 2010 at 6:47 AM

    >A couple other tips, from someone who deals with a lot of emails:

    If forwarding an email, provide a short summary of the information you are giving or requiring. It's pretty bad getting, "Please schedule the meeting," and there's five dates discussed in the thread–and it isn't clear which one it is!

    Take the time to write a proper message. BlackBerrys, in particular, seem to make people sloppy. They dash off a quick message, and I often have to get clarification.

    Don't confuse the reader. It is so easy to dash off an email and hit send that people often don't think about what they're saying and how people would react.

  57. Krista Phillips on January 20, 2010 at 6:39 AM

    >I think the rules vary depending on who you send it to.

    If it's to a friend, to be honest, they get what I give them. Usually I'm very "real" in my friend e-mails, use choppy sentences and acronyms, and the like.

    If to a business person that I am unfamiliar with, I am usually ultra professional, maybe too much sometimes. Somedays I fear I sound like a stuffed shirt.

    If it's to a business person that I know and have developed a relationship with, then I'm less formal but still follow the rules of etiquite. My goal (in my day job) is to get to know the people I e-mail so I know their personality and I cater their e-mail to them. Some are always ultra professional, and will always get a professional e-mail from me. Some are very "let down your hair" so I come at them with a little more humor and try to make them smile, even in a serious e-mail. It breaks the ice a bit.

    So, I guess given all that, my tip would be to known your audience and cater your e-mail to their needs.

  58. Jessica on January 20, 2010 at 6:33 AM

    >I don't think I've been annoyed by anyone yet, but I felt bad the other day for sending an e-mail too quickly, asking a question that I could've found the answer to myself.
    I agree about getting to the point. Probably why I e-mail more than talk on the phone. I ramble way too much in person, and so do others, probably.

    This is a helpful post! Thanks.

  59. Katie Ganshert on January 20, 2010 at 5:57 AM

    >Email is tough…because you can't hear the person or see the person, it's easy to misconstrue things, especially if the email is really short. I think, like you said, it's important to make it clear, to the point, but also personal.

  60. Jon Paul on January 20, 2010 at 4:51 AM

    >Any thoughts on pros or cons for using a standard signature?

    Most email programs allow you to build a standard signature (with phone #, address, etc.) which is automatically appended to the email. I've heard using one is good practice as long as it's not too wordy.

  61. Anonymous on January 20, 2010 at 3:34 AM

    >AS a writer, I'm guilty of using some shortcuts like PLMK or LOL if I've already exhanged e's w/ the person. Just a few acronyms here & there…Also my e-mail is a rather "fun" one that's relevant to my biz. Is that OK?

  62. Ronda Laveen on January 20, 2010 at 3:22 AM

    >I think you pretty well covered the subject. Be clear and concise. Texting with no caps or puncuation mystifies me when people are communicating on a professional level. Especially a literary professional level. Even bloggers that write like that give me pause. I get the concept in Facebook or Twitter. But please, if you are looking to someone to back you in a writing career, show you are a writer. It's not hard.

  63. Ed Eubanks on January 20, 2010 at 2:22 AM

    >Great list– these are excellent tips for effective e-mailing.

    One great tip I heard, and have found to be very useful, is to use numbered lists for multiple questions. This gives your addressee a direct and easy way to know that they have answered all of your questions.