1. Remember that although you may be using a personal e-mail account going to a personal e-mail account (neither issued by the organization you work for or go to school at) that if the message is read on either end at a business, college, or other organization, others may have read it or monitored it even if you are using a webmail account. Some places are monitoring all Internet traffic across their connections. So keep yourself out of trouble by not sending e-mail you would not want others reading. It is not like the post office that cannot open the mail once you put it in the receptacle until delivered to the receiver.
2. Don't over use all caps. All caps is read as shouting. However use caps when needed. For instance if I want to emphasize not to do something, I may well put NOT in caps. Also be carefully in using different fonts or colors of your characters or background. It may be difficult for some to read and different computers may interpret to a different color.
3. If responding to an e-mail include the e-mail you are responding to in your message. For people who receive and send lots of e-mail daily it can be confusing getting an e-mail that says "I am not sure what you meant" and not including what it was they were confused by. Too many times I have looked at a message and know I did write the person, but do not remember what I said, and have to search through my outbox for the message. Also it may delay my response as I may not be at home where messages are, so I cannot look the message up.
4. Use the subject line. Put the subject of e-mail in the subject line. That way it is not overlooked as spam. I personally like starting with the class number when writing students or group I am writing to and then what is reason for the e-mail. For example an update on information about the Georgia Kiwanis would be labeled as Georgia Kiwanis Update 1/31/2006. You then know how important you rank it by need of the information from Georgia Kiwanis , what it is and when I sent it.
5. Try to watch spelling, although we all make typing mistakes. Most e-mail programs have a spell checker although they do not work at times.
6. When sending to more than about 5 people use your BCC entry to list the addresses. That way the receivers only see their address and yours and not a long list of who you sent it to. Also the message is immediately available without scrolling down the list of names. Also a lot of e-mail filter programs will filter the messages if more than 25 or so addresses on TO or CC entries and the receiver never gets the e-mail message. The receiving program never sees the BCC entries except one address to it.
7. If you received the message from a list-serv then be careful when you respond. If you want everyone to read the response then click Reply. If it is only aimed at the sender of the message then click reply and find their address in the message and copy and paste it in the TO option removing the list serv name.
8. When forwarding or replying to e-mails strip off the extra address and header information so they can easily see what you sent. If forwarding a joke the receiver really does not want to know who all received and was sent the joke in the past, they only want to read the joke. Also strip all trailer information that is not identifying you with your signature. If it is a joke you are forwarding you probably want to strip the signature also.
9. Include pictures if relevant. If you have the ability re-size them before e-mailing do so as they will use lots of space and some people remember are using dialup so download time is important.
10. When you get e-mails that sound to good to be true or some new invention, think twice before forwarding. Do you really want Microsoft to be able to trace all your e-mails even if we get a $50 certificate to Applebees today? Check out the stories before forwarding on. For instance the girl who was lost with Wal-mart in Long, SC has long been found. A good site to check these if true is www.snopes.com Some of the things we get to forward are true and if you agree should be forwarded. However there is a lot of junk that is way out of date or false out there. This is not new with e-mail, but dates to pre-e-mail in postal mail. For instance I have a folder of mail I collected in the 1980s claiming that Proctor and Gamble is owned by the devil and P&Gs response. They are not connected to devil. The chain letters went by mail then, now cheap to do on e-mail.
11. Do not open attachments in e-mails you do not know what they are or who from. Many e-mail programs will warn you now that an attachment or link has a different real address than shown. Do not open these as they are almost always sinister. A way to get around some anti-virus programs with viruses and spyware.
E-mail is a wonderful communication tool that keeps us in better communication. Use it wisely and it can keep being that great tool just as we have had to learn to use phone wisely to keep it valuable.