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Free Email TutorialsEmail EtiquetteQuotes, punctuation, exclamation points, question marks - Email Etiquette

Quotes, punctuation, exclamation points, question marks - Email Etiquette

This tutorial doesn't concern itself about the English rules and proper usage of punctuation marks or quotations, and focuses instead on a few, special cases that are particularly relevant to email etiquette; for more generic info, grab a copy of an "online copywriting" book or manual. Movies, then television, accelerated the spread of trends throughout pop culture, but both speed of propagation and breadth were buffered by the mainstream media's intelligentsia; this is no longer the case with the web, whose uncensored exchanges give birth to overnight "internet memes" and new acronyms at a breakneck pace.

Colloquialism and email etiquette The purpose of email should ultimately be effective communication; by definition, with this new medium, rules are made to be broken, and in three months, using "WUIH" may become a standard Monday morning greeting between colleagues to say "What's up, I hope you had a nice weekend." The point is to adapt to established trends, while avoiding emerging fads, always keeping context and appropriateness in mind: interjecting LOL's throughout your PhD dissertation may not become acceptable for a few more decades (see Capitalization and Acronyms).

Basic punctuation and email etiquette

Here's a bare-minimum punctuation primer, not specifically applicable to email messages:

The purpose of this superficial summary is to remind all of us that punctuation makes sentences easier to read, and allows your text to flow more smoothly in the reader's mind (reading consists in "subvocalizing" words and expressions, and appropriately sprinkling punctuation marks adds music and rhythm to your words!) Think of a counter-example as best proof: have you ever received an single-paragraph email typed entirely with a single casing (lowercase or uppercase), without a single punctuation mark?

Exclamation Points (or "Exclamation Marks")

Part of the problem with email, and any other real time and interactive written medium like cell-to-cell text messages, is that the tone can be ambiguous (see why we think that it is often not only appropriate, but desirable, to use emoticons / smileys in your professional emails). The exclamation point brings in a lot of help, as you'll see.

Question Marks

The rules for question marks use are quite straightforward: always use a question mark when you ask a direct question, like "Should I take care of this?" An indirect question does not require a question mark: "I wonder if I should take care of this."

Tip: always avoid using multiple question marks, since they can easily be misconstrued as exasperated impatience, if not downright obnoxiousness. Got it???

Bada-boom :) Noticed your reaction?

Quotation Marks ("Single Quotes" or "Double Quotes")

Use quotation marks, or quotes, only in two very clear contexts:

Side info: There is an entire blog devoted to rather amusing examples of quotation marks misuse.

Tip: the American English keyboard doesn't have a dedicated key for true apostrophe, so single quote is the same key as the one you use for contractions or genitives, as in "It's Joe's toolbox". To avoid confusing, use double quotes to surround a quote that includes one or more apostrophes!

Email Etiquette Tutorial & Tips Compose & send messages Email Recipients: To, Cc, Bcc Email Titles / Subject Lines Quotations and Punctuation Capitalization and Acronyms Using emoticons ("smileys") Low-High Importance & Priority Reply and Reply to All Replying to professional emails after hours / during holidays
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