Dr Tom Kerns
North Seattle Community College
- Read the messages you receive
carefully to make sure you understand what is expected of you.
- Read your responses after you
finish typing them. Look for typos, but also read with your
readers' eyes. Is there any way your words could be misunderstood?
If so, rewrite.
- Humor and sarcasm are easily
misunderstood. Use an emoticon to let your reader know you are
smiling. J ;-)
- If you are replying to a message,
quote the relevant part, but only the relevant part.
- It's okay to point out mistakes
others make, but be gentle. You might make a mistake someday,
- Write a subject line that will
help your readers identify your message. Be specific. Not "Answer"
but "Answer to Question 6"
- Limit each message to one subject
only. Readers often miss the second subject in a long message.
- Always include your name and
your email address in the text so people know who you are and
where to send a reply. (Not necessary in FirstClass.)
- DON'T TYPE A WHOLE MESSAGE IN
UPPER CASE LETTERS. NOT ONLY IS UPPER CASE HARDER TO READ, BUT
UPPER CASE IS THE ELECTRONIC FORM OF SHOUTING. THE DISTANCE
LEARNER'S GUIDE PUBLISHED BY THE WESTERN COOPERATIVE FOR
EDUCATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS ADVISES NEVER TO "use all caps
when communicating with your instructors." Would you shout
at your instructor in an on-campus classroom?
- Not everybody you meet on the
Internet was born in the United States and has English as his
or her first language. Make allowances for possible misunderstandings
and unintended discourtesies.
- End questions with a question
mark and press return. Doesn't that make the question easier
for the reader to see?
- When you reply to a message,
check the address line to make sure your reply is addressed to
the person or persons you want to get the message. Should it
be everyone who got the message or just the person who sent the
message to you?
- Don't use too many arrows and
stars and exclamation points. These can distract from your message.
- Different colors and fonts
can be fun and can help organize a message, but be sure your
choices work for your message. Very light colors, very small type and
very busy fonts are hard to read.
- Remember you are writing to
communicate your ideas. If your readers don't understand your
ideas as you intend them to be understood, you need to rewrite.
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