Personal computing: Manners important when e-mailing |

Personal computing: Manners important when e-mailing

Manners are important in our relationships with others, even more so when our audience is unseen, as body language does not exist in the written world. Consider these points when you communicate via e-mail.


There is no such thing as privacy when using e-mail. You may delete a message after you send it and the recipient can delete it after reading but your deathless prose still exists and can be restored and read by others. If you would not write it on a postcard, think twice before you write it in an e-mail. Many a business career has been ruined and personal relationships damaged by an inappropriate message.


Do not just hit the Reply button and start typing. Include only the information you are replying to. Edit out the rest. Reply only to the sender.

Reply All

Do not hit the Reply to all button. Watch out for multiple addressees. Remember security and do not provide a ready-made mailing list.


Before you forward, consider whether the other person really would like to see this item. If you continue, let them know why you think they would like to receive it.

Avoid including all the other addresses, select and delete them. Then enter the recipients address as a BCC (Blind Carbon Copy). You should have at least one name in the To box, simple, address it to yourself. This cuts down on the size of the message and makes it easier to read. Security has been upheld as no names and addresses have been included.


Not everyone has a high-speed Internet connection. If you plan to attach files, learn how to compress them before sending. Windows XP has a File Compression/Extraction Wizard. Use it for anything larger than 200 kilobytes.

XP also has a Wizard for making pictures smaller. A picture suitable for printing an 8 by 10 portrait is excessively large to include in e-mail. Some e-mail inboxes can be swamped with just a few pictures and cannot accept more mail until emptied.

Images, backgrounds, and stationery

Including fancy backgrounds and stationery is fun; however, you should not rely on your recipients having the capability of reading such messages. Not all e-mail programs will show HTML and will only show text or even worse, the message might come across like gobbledygook. In addition, each non-text item increases the size of the e-mail and result in longer download times.

Writing in all caps

An e-mail a message written in all CAPS is considered shouting or displaying anger. The one exception is if a person is visually impaired or otherwise handicapped where they cannot use the Shift key.

Proper formatting

No punctuation or all small case as well as no spell check leave a poor impression with the reader.

Subject line

Always include a subject for your e-mail. Use a brief and concise description of the contents of the message. Do not use terms such as Hi, Help, Please Respond, or the recipient’s name as the subject field as you may be misidentified as a spammer and your e-mail deleted. In the body of your message is where the greetings belong.

Business versus Personal

E-mails sent from your workplace are regarded as official communications regardless of content. Moreover, your employer is entitled to read your incoming mail. Remind your personal correspondents of this to avoid being embarrassed while opening mail from friends.


Don Tweedie is a volunteer with the Gold Country Computer Learning Center. For information about computer classes or The Learning Center, go to or call 273-3029.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User