This series of free tutorials will introduce some of the most important principles of email etiquette: just like good manners are important when you interact with people, email manners will define how your colleagues, contractors, boss, and other supervisors will perceive you, treat you, and promote you, as the case may be. As you'll see, the primary focus will be work in general, and the office (white collar positions) in particular. Basic definitions and best practices will depend on your position, the formality of your workplace, your relationship with others who work there as well, etc. There are no absolute rules, but we'll give you do's and don'ts that will help you make the most of many situations.
If you've ever read Emily Post or an etiquette manual, most of the work is already done: email etiquette is more a state of mind that a todo list of techniques and ironclad guidelines. Caring for others' feelings is a start, and will let you guess how to reply to emails: if you are in the health care industry, show sensitivity to patients needs and their relatives'; if you are a government employee, show taxpayers who email you that you care about their concerns.
Be positive, constructive otherwise: if you can't, don't reply at all. Make sure each of the emails you send are interesting, or at least useful. Many people use their email inbox as a todo list of sorts; sending useless emails will break their workflow and concentration, and put them potentially . If you want to acknowledge a non-professional email sent to you at work, simply replying "lol" (lowercase) will do the trick - the lowercase letters and lack of punctuation, assuming you properly case your messages, will indicate a slight lack of enthusiasm to the discerning eye (and hopefully the rest of us). If you reply "LOL!" (in uppercase, with one or more exclamation points), you are subliminally authorizing -if not encouraging- the email sender to keep sending these hilarious messages.
As the sender, realize that at the office, people cannot block your email address, since you may at times send important, work-related emails: this doesn't mean you should always be serious and boring, but reserve your fun side for the appropriate time - a shared break, office party, after-hours talks on the parking lot, etc.
Explore the list of email etiquette tutorials on the left side of this page: we'll keep adding more, starting with the big questions that apply to all of us, and progressively move on to more peculiar case studies and workshop-type topics for your industry.