RESEARCH GUIDE: E-mail
E-mail is widely believed to help people within public as well as private
sector organisations share information efficiently, but the problem of
e-mail overload is widely feared. The European
Forum for Electronic Business (http://www.eema.org) has produced the
following code to help individuals and organizations to use e-mail effectively
and stop it getting out of hand. This list is an enlarged and adapted version
of their recommendations.
you need to send it by e-mail at all? E-mail is not always the best
option. Sometimes it is easier to pick up a telephone and talk to the person
especially if the point is complicated. Do not e-mail someone sitting close
to you -- ask him or her in person. Up to 15% of office e-mail is unnecessary.
your message a meaningful title [subject]. "Meeting" is not helpful,
but "Meeting tomorrow is canceled" is.
to restrict action requests to only one recipient. Messages that
are sent to more than one person might result in it being unclear as to
who needs to take action. Address those who need to be informed but do
not have to take any action as "cc" recipients.
your message as brief as possible. Some people get a lot of e-mail
and you can help them by getting to the point quickly.
the number of people to whom you address a message as much as possible.
Do not copy ("Cc") more people than strictly necessary.
whether a message should go to a distribution list. Company directories
may contain distribution lists for general use. Many of these are intended
for the distribution of official notices and thus contain large numbers
of employees. Not everyone needs to receive a message intended only for
some. Use your e-mail program to arrange addresses in "Folders" or similar
sub-categories so you can direct the messages only to the addressees who
should receive them.
the "Bcc" [blind carbon copy] field instead of the "To" field where you
are distributing messages to several people, and where it is not necessary
for each to know who else has received the message. This will reduce
the size of the messages.
"odd" characters can be changed during transmission. It is recommended
that alpha abbreviations be used for currency instead of the symbols (USD,
GBP, NLG, etc.). For a similar reason be careful with quote marks and foreign
language characters (characters with umlauts, breves, tildes, etc.) should
not distribute message information within an attached word processor document
where plain text or rich text within the e-mail can suffice. Word processor
generated files will typically be significantly larger. (Hint: Save the
document as a "txt" file in any word processing program.)
not send courtesy thank you messages on a day-to-day basis where you are
e-mailing a person regularly.
unwanted addresses and change-retained addresses to "Cc" status unless
action is required from them.
not retain original attachments when replying unless this adds to
the clarity of your reply.
13. When replying to a bulletin
published on a public distribution list or bulletin board consider whether
your response should be sent to just the originator of the bulletin or
to everyone subscribed to the list.
file compression software for large attachments. However, be aware
that not all companies have unzipping facilities, so be prepared to re-transmit
"in clear" if the recipient complains.
the "Urgent" flag sparingly, otherwise its impact will be diluted.
not use the "Read receipt" indiscriminately. The correct use is
as a check to an important action requested by e-mail. Some messaging systems
allow the use of message "Flags" which will automatically prompt the recipient
to reply after a defined period of time, again use this sparingly.
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