Dos and don'ts

<strong>Send: the how, why, when and when not of e-mail</strong>

David Shipley and Will Schwalbe <

Email as a form of correspondence is frequently misleading, riddled with lax grammar and often a stranger to politeness. In light of this, David Shipley and Will Schwalbe have compiled a guide

to etiquette for the modern communicator. Their advice ranges from rules regarding simple invitation and thank you emails to the more sensitive issues of attaching files and the right time to employ that sneaky Bcc line.

There are cautionary tales to warn us that even the formatting decisions we make can speak volumes. “Hooray” is a good word to capitalise; a pejorative word, such as “idiot”, is not.

An email that relies too heavily on your computer’s caps lock is likely to aggravate the reader, as is one boasting some ornate and brightly coloured font. Don’t fall into the “Subject line: Re: Re: Re: Re:” trap, and avoid anything that can land you in jail (inclusion of the phrase “this may not be legal” is unwise).

Despite what we have been conditioned to think, email is not always the answer. Marriage proposals are nicer in person, as are redundancy notices. And if the Queen invites you to tea, for God’s sake put pen to paper to thank her. This is a blend of straightforward advice and useful tips delivered in an accessible manual.

This article first appeared in the 28 May 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Gaza: The jailed state