Brevity is the Key
Keep your emails short as possible. There may be students who pay for their Internet service on an hourly basis. Many people receive 50-100 emails a day, and do not have the time to read a novelette based on a homework assignment.
Use the Subject Line
Always put a descriptive title in your subject line so that your instructor or classmates know what your email is regarding. Your instructor may have special instructions for the subject lines for the submission of assignments or emails.
Don't use special formatting
Stationery, colorful fonts, graphics, specialized signatures, etc. while fun to create, are not always fun for the recipient. Many email programs may not be able to read the unique formatting. Your recipient will receive an error notice with a hard-to-read text only version of your message. The more flashy your message, the longer it will take to open with a slower dial-up modem.
Secure the CAPS LOCK key
A letter written in all capital letters is very difficult to read. With Net etiquette in mind, realize that multiple words typed in capital letters is the equivalent of shouting. A preferable way to showcase a word would be to underline it, bold it, or change its font style. Small marks made by using the punctuation and alpha keys (called "emoticons" or "smilies") may be used to represent emotions. More information about emoticons may be found at "Emoticons".
Abbreviations have been used as long as there has been online communication. They may be used more often now due to the popularity of text-messaging telephones. Use abbreviations sparingly. Remember that many people reading your messages may not be used to the use of abbreviations for communication. Optimally, this should be used only once in a while. FYI, some common abbreviations and their meanings are located here: Internet Communication Shorthand/Abbreviations.
A Caution about Punctuation Usage
Use punctuation in electronic communications the way you would in a written document. Don't overuse it, but always include it. Grammar and punctuation should be used informally, but correctly.
Use single-spaced lines for your email messages unless otherwise instructed. Single-space type is easiest to read.
Font Style and Size
Serif or Sans Serif, it doesn't matter. Select a font style that is easy to read. Some popular samples are:
Times New Roman
A good readable size is 12 point. A good rule is no smaller than 10, nor larger than 14 point.
Do not add fuel to the Flame
Students are expected to act courteously with one another while communicating through emails, synchronous and asynchronous discussions as they would in the classroom. Most instructors will post communications guidelines at the beginning of class. Adhere to these rules, and do not "flame" another just because you do not believe with his or her views. Flaming is verbally attacking someone online. Be respectful of others.
Tracking the Original Message
You will encounter situations when you will exchange email with your instructor or your classmates. Sometimes you will want to include the original message with your response, and other times when it is not necessary to include the original message. Most email programs will include all previous messages, in ascending order (from most recent message to the original message).
Before replying to or forwarding email messages decide if the original message/s should be included. Realize that some mailboxes, especially free accounts have very little storage space, and the longer the message, the more valuable space is taken. Many free programs, such as MSN, will not accept a mail message that is too large for the remaining open space.
Many of your classmates may be using free email services that have a small mailbox. As a rule, do not send large files as attachments. If you must send a large attachment, use a Zip program to compress the file into a smaller size. Your recipient will have to unzip or decompress the file when he receives it. There are several free zip programs available for download online.
Emails of Great Urgency
Some email programs, such as Outlook, will offer you a way to send messages with varying levels of importance (high, medium and low). Do not use the red exclamation point (used for high importance) unless you have a good reason. People respond to the sight of a message identified by an exclamation icon. If your message reads, "What did you think of chapter 12?" people may disregard your urgent messages in the future.
Always have a version of a virus protection program such as McAfee or Norton on the computer you use to send and receive email. Routinely install updates issued from he anti-virus program you are using. Do not forward email attachments to others that you receive from outside sources, as they may be infective.
Respect Other's Mailboxes
Unless agreed to by other classmates, do not use valuable class time to exchange email jokes and other non-course related material with your online classmates. These will fill up their mailboxes and they may not be able to receive necessary course-related email. If you do with to send them unrelated email, ask them for another email address that they would prefer to use for this type of correspondence.
Some helpful links for Netiquette:
http://www.iwillfollow.com/email.htm I Will Follow Website
http://www.albion.com/netiquette/index.html The Netiquette Homepage