Recently, both the New Yorker (in The Talk of the Town section) and The New York Times ran stories on a new book on e-mail etiquette called "Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home." "S" stands for simple, "E" for effective, "N" for necessary, "D" for done. The high-profile visibility of this little-book-that-could is no wonder since it was co-authored by David Shipley who is deputy editorial page editor of The Times and Will Schwalbe, editor-in-chief of Hyperion Books. They were eating oysters in Grand Central Terminal and complaining about ill-considered e-mails they had recently received, and even sent, when a light bulb went off.
I'm not sure if I'll ever read this book, but I love the concept because I've always been a big fan of etiquette books (Amy Vanderbilt is the queen on this subject!) since I was a kid. Other people's idiosyncrasies are, to me, always an interesting read, and it's just the sort of thing that makes you chuckle and go "Oh, I know people like that." or "Oh, yeah, I do that."
Check out some of the e-mail "Do's and Don'ts" according to Schwalbe (an "All best!" man) and Shipley ( a "Cheers" chap):
1. Do think before you send.
2. Do send e-mail you would like to receive.
3. Don't use a misleading or meaningless subject ("Re: Re: Re:") -- you'll end up addressing the e-mail to the wrong recipients, or too many of them.
4. Don't put somebody in the "To" list who should be a "Cc" or vice versa
5. Don't misuse the sneaky "Bcc" and "Forward" commands, which can easily cause a confidential message to become very public indeed.
6. Don't abuse the "Reply All" when receiving amusing or invitational emails.
7. Do send a hideously late response -- even an inadequate one -- rather than none at all, if you have any interest in maintaining a relationship.
8. Do remember to never forward without permission, and assume everything you write will be forwarded.
9. Don't over-use 'please.'
10. Do use lots of exclamation points as in 'Thanks!!!!' is way friendlier than 'Thanks'; abbreviations ("Is LOL . . . really inherently more opaque than FYI?"); and emoticons (those smiley faces and the like may "bug many people but they make us smile").