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A Publication Featuring The
Information Services Technology of Maine State Government
By Ron Grimard
There are some rules of etiquette we
should practice and bad habits that we should avoid. Most of us are pros at sending
and receiving E-mail messages, however you could be creating extra work for your
co-workers without knowing it. Most of us work under the basic rule that all messages must
be answered! This sometimes is pretty hard to do when you receive hundreds of messages
each day. The following email etiquette guidelines is being put forth in hopes that it
will help you manage the amount of time spend with your inbox or the amount of time you
cause others to spend with their inbox. These guidelines are for users of any email
system, please review them and see how you measure up.
- An effective Subject line is paramount. A good Subject line helps you and your message
recipients view, file, search, and prioritize messages efficiently. Messages that arrive
in your inbox that have been flagged as Priority or flagged Urgent should contain
important information, not a false alarm.
- A Subject line should state exactly what the message is about and nothing moremost
recipients can prioritize messages for themselves.
- Try to limit message text to one screen so the reader can quickly peruse the message for
highlights and main points. Also, stay on topic and avoid long dialogs or discussions via
- Use Reply All with caution. In some situations, this option is necessary because all
recipients need your response. However, a Reply All with the message body that says
"Thanks" probably doesn't need to go to everyone. Closely related to Reply All
is the Distribution List (DL). Make sure you use DLs with care, and when you see that a
large DL has been used, ask yourself whether everyone needs your response before you click
the Reply All button.
- Limit the use and size of attachments. (Users sometimes dial-in to handle their E-mail
and large attachments dont help!) Attachments aren't bad you just need to use them
with care. When you add an attachment to a message, consider whether there is an
alternative. For example, can you put the attachment on a server and provide a URL
(http://server/file) or UNC (\\server\share) instead? This will save processing time for
your email message especially across the Wan to a CC:Mail site that is going to
"hold" the email because it exceeds 2meg.
- Establish E-mail time. Set aside regular periods during the day when you can read and
respond to your E-mail messages.
- For OUTLOOK users, organize your inbox. Create subfolders and organize your email into
these folders. You can also use a personal store (.pst file) with Outlook, but be aware of
your mailbox size limitation, monthly backups
- Delete unneeded messages, replies, and acknowledgments. Manage your deleted items folder
by cleaning it out manually or simply deleting all items when you exit from your Mail
application, set this as a standard function.
- Be careful about E-mail from unknown senders. Unsolicited and unwanted E-mail should be
deleted. Attachments from these sources may contain viruses beware!
- Don't oversubscribe. We're all tempted to subscribe to mailing lists and email
newsletters that interest us. Make sure that you subscribe to only those that you really
have the time to read or are interested in. You might want to set up a public folder and
subscribe it to the list instead of having every user subscribe individually
A good solution for E-email overload doesn't exist, so we'll always be
plagued with these issues. However, by putting some good practices into place and training
users (and practicing what we preach), this very useful and business-critical tool can be
Ron Grimard is the Enterprise E-mail Administrator in the Network Services
Division of BIS.
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