Netiquette Guidelines

Remember: We are all humans. Computers give us the illusion that we are writing to a machine. Human beings react to email responses with human behaviors and we need to be sensitive to that.

 

Communication Guidelines for Sending & Receiving

Writing Emails for Easier Responses

Communication Guidelines for Sending & Receiving

Guidelines for Received Communications

  1. Forgive other people’s mistakes. Most people have accidentally said something online that they regret, or sent an email message to everyone when it should have gone to one person. Accept apologies and move on.
  2. Respect other people’s privacy. If someone contacts you outside the chat room or the listserv, consider those messages as private communications and do not share them with others. If someone, however, sends inappropriate messages, let your professor know immediately.

Guidelines for Sending Communications

  1. Adhere to standards of behavior. Be polite, sincere, and respectful of others. Avoid gossiping about others online.
  2. Make yourself look good online. Check spelling, re-read for grammatical errors, format emails for easy responses, avoid “flaming” and project an image of a good student. (NOTE: “Flaming," means to send an angry, hostile or abusive electronic message.).
  3. Help keep “flames” under control. Only use appropriate language online. If others “flame,” try to move readers away from those inappropriate comments.
  4. Share expert knowledge. When appropriate, help other students understand the assignment and learn the content. Before you ask your professors questions, see if other students can ease your confusion.

Writing Emails for Easier Responses

Guidelines for Composing Email

  1. Avoid using humor or use it sparingly. What seems funny to you may not seem funny to others. Also, jokes and sarcasm can be offensive, and witticisms can fall flat.
  2. Customize wording according to the audience. Don’t use the same language when writing to professors as you would use with your peers. Use standard spelling, punctuation, complete sentences and black readable font on a white background for communications with professors. Also, include your name and the class you are taking.
  3. Write short paragraphs. Short paragraphs aid readability and avoid the problem of too much text on the screen.
  4. Write lines shorter than 70 characters. Shorter lines are easier to read on the screen (think of a newspaper column).

Guidelines for Formatting Email

  1. Use headings to help the reader find and preview the information. Headings allow the reader to find specific information, get a “preview” of what you are discussing, and aid in comprehension and memory.
  2. Write informative, descriptive subject lines to describe your message. For example: If you send a message to Automobiles’ Newsgroup, a subject like “66MG Midget for Sale: Oregon” is much more informative than “Car for Sale.” 
  3. Separate your paragraphs with blank lines. Avoid indenting paragraphs and be sure to leave blank space between paragraphs so the reader can skim the paragraphs quickly.
  4. Make your questions clear. Avoid the common condition of writing a statement instead of the actual question. Be sure to ask the question you mean to ask in as specific, concrete terms as possible.
  5. Use only upper and lower case. ALL CAPS are extremely difficult to read on the screen and on the page. In addition, ALL CAPS imply screaming – a practice you will want to avoid.
  6. Preview your message by sending it to yourself before your send it to others. You may have been interrupted while composing or you may have done some editing that will cause your message not to make sense.

Guidelines for Continuing Email Conversations

  1. Respond to email received within a reasonable time frame. “Reasonable” will depend upon the recipient’s expectations and the subject being discussed.
  2. Trim back the old messages. Most email clients will keep copying older messages at the bottom of an email. Delete the older messages so as to keep your message size from getting too large and to keep your messages looking clean.

Developed in part by Dr. Deborah S. Bosley, Director of University Writing Programs UNC Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223-0001