Back on May 24, 1844 Samuel Morse sent the first message using Morse Code as a demonstration to Congress. He sent the message "What hath God wrought" from the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to the B&O Railroad in Baltimore. The Morse Code system of, rather complicated, dots, dashes and timing became a standard for the "telegraph" and people used it to communicate for decades to follow.
Today, things have gotten a little bit faster - we email, we text, some of us tweet. And Morse Code seems rather, well, archaic. But realizing the communication by cable started 169 years ago serves as a great reminder to check our email etiquette. Some people can't stand poor grammar, others take issue with the overuse of the "Reply All" function. Meagan, for example, doesn't handle misspellings all that kindly in emails - along with improper or nonexistent capitalization. So, courtesy of CBS News, here are our favorite tips for emailing:
Tips for Email Etiquette:
- Reply - No Matter What
If you've received an email, answer it! We all get busy, and other tasks can take priority over responding to an email. Simply saying "Got it, thanks, will get to it as soon as I can" is a fine response. Then you can answer the email when you have time and the person who sent it won't be left wondering if you're lost in cyberspace.
- If You're on the "CC" Line, Consider Not Hitting Reply
Usually being "CC-ed" on an email means it's being sent to you for informational purposes only. You don't need to do anything but be aware of what is going on. That means you don't need to reply unless you see a glaring mishap or are invited into the conversation.
- Don't Forget the Attachments
Everyone makes mistakes, and these things can happen. But make sure that 95% of the time you attach what you say you're going to send. If you are the forgetful sort, there are programs that you can use to scan your emails for words like "attached", "included" and "enclosed". Those programs will prompt you to make sure that attachments are, well, attached before you hit "send".
- Answer All Questions
Have you ever gotten an email reply that answers all but one of your questions? And it's always the most important question isn't it? Make sure that you answer all of the questions in the email in your initial reply. If you don't have the answer straightaway, say that. Then respond to the question when you have the answers.
- Bottom Line Up Front
Don't "bury the lead", to borrow a phrase from the newsroom. Start out with the bottom line - or the gist of the message - and then elaborate. Don't ask people to read the entire email before getting to the point of the message. Begin the message with the important stuff and then flesh it out as
- Keep The Subject Line Current
You know those email chains that go on forever...and the conversation started out about, say, apples, and now you've moved on to oranges. Go ahead and update the subject line. It'll keep everyone current on what the conversation is about, and reflect the actual conversation.
- Be Careful About Tone
It's really hard to read tone in an email. If you're like Meagan, you read your mood into the message (meaning when Meagan's grumpy, every email headed her way is bound to be read in kind). Always go out of your way to be polite, and upbeat.
- Lose the Emoticons
Most business emails shouldn't have little smileys in them. It looks unprofessional.