1. Read the messages you receive carefully to
make sure you understand what is expected of you.
2. Read your responses after you finish typing
them. Look for typos, but also read with your readers' eyes. Is there any
way your words could be misunderstood? If so, rewrite.
3. Humor and sarcasm are easily misunderstood.
Use an emoticon to let your reader know you are smiling. J ;-)
4. If you are replying to a message, quote the
relevant part, but only the relevant part.
5. It's okay to point out mistakes others make,
but be gentle. You might make a mistake someday, too.
6. Write a subject line that
will help your readers identify your message. Be specific. Not "Answer" but "Answer
to Question 6"
7. Limit each message to one subject only. Readers
often miss the second subject in a long message.
8. Always include your name and your email address
in the text so people know who you are and where to send a reply. (Not necessary
9. DON'T TYPE A WHOLE MESSAGE IN UPPER CASE
LETTERS. NOT ONLY IS UPPER CASE HARDER TO READ, BUT UPPER CASE IS THE ELECTRONIC
FORM OF SHOUTING. THE DISTANCE LEARNER'S GUIDE PUBLISHED BY THE
WESTERN COOPERATIVE FOR EDUCATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS ADVISES NEVER TO "use all
caps when communicating with your instructors." Would you shout
at your instructor in an on-campus classroom?
10. Not everybody you meet on the Internet was
born in the United States and has English as his or her first language.
Make allowances for possible misunderstandings and unintended discourtesies.
11. End questions with a question mark and press
return. Doesn't that make the question easier for the reader to see?
12. When you reply to a message, check the address
line to make sure your reply is addressed to the person or persons you want
to get the message. Should it be everyone who got the message or just the
person who sent the message to you?
13. Don't use too many arrows and stars and
exclamation points. These can distract from your message.
14. Different colors and fonts can be fun and
can help organize a message, but be sure your choices work for your message.
Very light colors, very
small type and very busy fonts are hard to read.
15. Remember you are writing to communicate
your ideas. If your readers don't understand your ideas as you intend them
to be understood, you need to rewrite.