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Email etiquette

Email is a convenient and effective medium to conduct business communication. Let’s have a look at etiquette guidelines on how to address an email message, as well as grammar and acronyms rules in the letter body.

Addressing your message

When addressing an email, it’s important to know the difference among the To, Cc and Bcc fields.

  • Using the ‘To’ field: The ‘To’ field is used when sending a direct message to someone. You may send the same email to multiple addresses using the ‘To’ field. Do so when your email is meant to be addressed directly to all recipients, as in the case of a manager directing his team. Note though that when you use the ‘To’ field, all email addresses can be viewed by all recipients. Put multiple addresses in the ‘To’ field only when every recipient is okay with his or her email address being released to everyone.
  • Using the ‘Cc’ field: Cc stands for carbon copy. You use the ‘Cc’ field to send a copy of the email message to people who are not meant to be the direct recipients of the message, but still need to be kept on the loop. For instance, if a manager has ordered his secretary to send a memo to everyone in the department, the secretary may place all the department employees’ email address on the ‘To’ section, and the manager’s email address on the ‘Cc’ field. Note that, like the ‘To’ field, all email addresses entered in a ‘Cc’ field can be viewed by everyone.
  • Using the “Bcc’ field: Bcc stands for Blind carbon copy. When you place email addresses in ‘Bcc’ field, recipients are ‘blind’ to other recipients’ email address. The use of the ‘Bcc’ field is most appropriate if the recipients have not given permission for their email address to be released, or if there is reason to keep the email address private. Because the ‘Bcc’ field offers privacy that the ‘To’ and ‘Cc’ fields do not, you may use the blind carbon copy field for both direct and indirect email messages where privacy of email addresses is needed. If you wish to send an email to many direct recipients, but you don’t wish to disclose anyone’s email address, just use your own email address in the ‘To’ field, and use the ‘Bcc’ field for the recipients’ addresses.

Grammar and Acronyms

While online mediums of communication have developed their own vocabulary, it is best to remember that business emails require the same formality as any business letter. Here are some key things to remember with regards to grammar and the use of acronyms in an email.

  • Always follow the rules of good grammar. You may refer to English writing style guides for these rules.
  • Always use full sentences and words with proper sentence structure. Don’t use text-speak. Example: use “The reports are due on Monday.” instead of “D reports r due Mon”
  • Proper capitalization and punctuation are a must! In email, all caps give the impression that you’re shouting, and small caps are hard to read. Example: use “The report should include an evaluation report.” Instead of “The report SHOULD INCLUDE AN EVALUATION REPORT.
  • In business emails, avoid text-speak abbreviations such as BTW (by the way), IMHO (In my honest opinion,) and LOL (laugh out loud). Avoid the use of emoticons, as well.

 

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