Effective Use of Email
These guidelines are designed to assist you in making the most effetctive use of the email services available in TCD.
- The email message you send may be one of dozens seeking the attention of its recipient. Therefore it is important to use clear and unambiguous subject lines that the reader will understand. 'Planning meeting today at 11.00' is much more effective as a subject line than 'Meeting'. Descriptive subject lines also help the recipient to file and retrieve the message later.
- Identify yourself and your contact details clearly at the end of your message. This can be done easily using the 'signature' feature available in most email applications.
- If you expect the recipient of your message to act on its contents then make this clear at the beginning of the text and include a 'due date' indicating when the action needs to be taken.
- Use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation. Your email message will not be taken seriously if it contains careless errors. Applications such as Outlook have built-in spell checkers.
- Reading from a computer screen is different from reading from paper. Break up the text of your message by keeping your paragraphs short and separating paragraphs with blank lines. This allows the reader to scan the text of your message more effectively.
- Don't use CAPITALS to add emphasis to the content of your message. Capitalising is generally interpreted as shouting to your reader. Instead you could use asterisks to *emphasise* your point.
- When replying to a message which has been sent to a number of recipients, use the 'reply-all' option sparingly. Before replying, ask yourself whether all of the people on the recipient list really need to see your reply. Often people are unnecessarily added to an email thread and get included in all of the subsequent discussions which occur.
- Re-read your message before clicking on the Send button.
When Not to Use Email
Given its ease of use and speed of delivery, email is ubiquitous as a form of communication in College. However, there may be occasions when email is not the most appropriate medium to use when seeking to communicate information:
- If a message needs to be acted on immediately or requires a quick decision then email may not be the best option. Email users should be aware that although a message can be sent and delivered quickly, there is no corresponding guarantee it will be read by the recipient, much less that it will be acted on immediately.
- Communicate highly complex information through other means. A telephone call, or face-to-face conversation may reduce any misunderstandings.
- Unlike telephone and personal conversations that fade with time, impulsive email responses can sit around in mailboxes, be printed out, circulated and acquire a level of importance that was never intended.
- Email is not the most efficient method of distributing documents such as lecture notes to multiple recipients. IS Services suggest that staff use Get and Put folders for this purpose or consider publishing files of this type on the Blackboard Learn system where they can be accessed by students.