Having taught my first class on how to use email years ago to employees at AT&T, it’s quite frustrating to see almost everyone today using email without taking the time to either understand the proper use of the tool or the implications of its improper use.  A typical case in point, since many of us read our emails today on handheld devices that keep us ever in touch, how tedious is it to scroll down, down, down our screen, past the many addresses and other garbage that this email has already forwarded until we actually get to the message?  And those addresses are a spammer’s treasure chest!

So, while we could search the internet and find hundreds of email “rules”, in an effort to keep it simple, these are probably the five best, taken from the article at the link below the rules.


“Here are the 5 Rules of Forwarding Emails that those who are being truly thoughtful follow. If everyone followed them all the problems associated with forwarded emails could be avoided. Sticking to these guidelines will assist both those thinking they are thoughtful and those who don’t want to appear otherwise:

  1. Don’t forward anything without editing out all the forwarding >>>>, other email addresses, headers and commentary from all the other forwarders. Don’t make folks look amongst all the gobbledygook to see what it is you thought was worth forwarding. If you must forward, only forward the actual “guts” or content of the email that you are of the opinion is valuable. Check out this neato free program to help you out: Email Stripper.
  2. If you cannot take the time to write a personal comment at the top of your forwarded email to the person you are sending to – then you shouldn’t forward it at all.
  3. Think carefully about if what you are forwarding will be of value (accurate information – check for hoaxes @ Snopes.com), appreciated (something the recipient needs) or humorous (do they have the same sense of humor as you do) to the person on the other side. Or do you just think it is worthy? If you cannot think of why the person you are forwarding to would like to receive the email – then don’t forward it. If on company time using company email – think not twice, but three times if forwarding is worth the risk of your on the job credibility and professionalism being diminished.
  4. It should go without saying (But I have to say it because folks do so anyway.) that forwarding of chain letters; regardless how noble the topic may seem, virus warnings or anything that says “forward to everyone you know” simply shouldn’t be forwarded because in most cases it is plain old B.S. (again check before forwarding @ Snopes.com). Email is email-there is no chain to break or continue – no cause or effect whether you do or not. Also, the fact is not all commentary will be appreciated by the other side if they have a different viewpoint than you do – be very careful here.
  5. If you must forward to more than one person, put your email address in the TO: field and all the others you are sending to in the BCC: field to protect their email address from being published to those they do not know. This is a serious privacy issue! Do not perpetuate a breach of privacy started by other forwarders who included their contact’s addresses in the To: or CC: field by continuing to forward those visible addresses to your contacts! Remove any email addresses in the body of the email that have been forwarded by those who brush off the privacy of their friends and associates.”

The source of these rules can be found here:  http://www.netmanners.com/email-etiquette/5-rules-of-forwarding-email/

But if I could add just two more regarding Replies, it would be these:

  1. Don’t “Reply to All” if everyone doesn’t need to know your response.
  2. Don’t include the history of the thread or attachments that I already sent you.  Opinions vary on this, but I know what was said before, or I can look it up.  All it does is waste more space on your computer (or the email server where your email is kept, or both). Some people actually have limits on their email usage.