E-mail Guidelines

I recently went to a seminar at work on using email better. All of us on the committee now use email, but some of us find it difficult or uncongenial. I think some of the ideas from the seminar may help us.

Is Email Best?

Email is not always the best medium. Some office workers tend to use email when the phone would be better. This may apply to us.

Email leaves a Lot out

In normal conversation body language and tone of voice often convey more than the words used, but in email we only have the words. We therefore have to make sure that what we write will be understood by people who cannot see our face or hear our voice. Sarcasm and irony should generally be avoided, and even humour may be misunderstood.

Who should get the Email?

Most people get more emails that they really want. When composing an email, consider carefully just who should receive it. When replying to a message, decide whether to reply to the sender only, (reply), or to everyone who has received the message (reply all).

Subject Line

The subject line should be brief and relevant to the content of the message. Do not leave the subject line blank.

Brevity and Clarity

Remember that for some people reading email is an effort. Be polite, but brief. If your message is part of a long thread of emails, delete most of the earlier ones before you send it. If you are asking someone to do something, make it clear who is to do it and what is to be done. Always read through your email before you send it to check that it makes sense.


(These are my ideas, which are different from what we were told in the seminar).
Email can be a rapid means of communication. Sometimes speed is necessary, but often it is not. Pause before replying to an email, especially if you have strong feelings about it. It is possible, (though not always easy), to handle email reflectively and prayerfully and to allow the Spirit to work through it.

Eleanor Tew, 25/04/2009