Basic E-Mail Configuration and Etiquette
When configuring your e-mail software (whether IMP/HORDE on Kielo, or
Outlook Express, Eudora, Mozilla Thunderbird, etc., on your home computer,
or a webmail account such as Gmail, Hotmail, etc.) and sending e-mail, one
should observe the following conventions:
- Use a Descriptive Subject Line
Whenever mail is being sent to another person (as opposed to an e-mailed
'command' being sent to Listserv), either directly or via an e-mail
'list,' always fill in the Subject line. The subject should be
long enough to specify what the message is about, and also distinguish it
from mass-mailed 'spam' postings.
- Use a Signature File
Create a short (a maximum of 3 lines is considered proper 'netiquette'
signature file which will be appended to all e-mail that you create,
forward, or 'reply' to. At the top of your Signature File use the
'underscore' character to create a 40-character (roughly) line to separate
the end of your e-mailed text from your signature file text. The
signature file itself should include your name and e-mail address. It may
also include a link to your personal web pages (whether other relevant
personal data would be available for those who are interested) and/or
your institution and 'status' where this is relevant. Do NOT include
numerous lines of phone and fax numbers, full addresses, etc., etc.
- Configure Your Mailer to Send and Receive "Plain-Text"
- Configure your e-mail software to send mail as "plain text" rather
than as "HTML mail". This will eliminate the annoying "HTML attachments"
that are often received from novice e-mailers. It will also ensure that
your e-mail will be easily readable by all recipients, regardless of what
software or platform they are using.
- Also configure your software so that it only receives incoming e-mail
as "plain text," rather than as HTML. Increasingly, the images or scripts
embedded in HTML-coded e-mail are being used to transmit viruses, implant
'spyware' on the recipient's computer, hijack your browser settings, etc.
all silently in the background without you ever knowing about it
until it is too late.
Setting your mailer to receive e-mail only as "plain text" will allow
you to see 100% of the text sent, without risking any of the
above-mentioned problems with HTML mail. Setting your mailer
configuration (for example in IMP/Horde) to NOT display images even from
people in your address book is an additional security step.
- Double-space Between Text Paragraphs, and Do Not
In your e-mail messages, set the line length in your mailer to a maximum
of 74 characters per line. Use full-block paragraphing, without
indentations at the beginning of a new paragraph. Keep your paragraphs
relatively short: it is difficult to read overly-long paragraphs that fill
an entire screen (or more) with continuous text.
Use double-spacing to separate paragraphs from one another, and titles
or section headers from the text which follows. Remember that you have no
control over what software the recipient(s) of your mail may be using and
how it has been configured to re-wrap, re-format, or otherwise possibly
change into an unreadable mess mail which has not used double-spacing to
separate the text elements. [This also applies to the coding of
HTML pages, the paragraphs and sections of which should also be separated
- Do Not Copy/Repeat Entire 'Received' Messages When
When replying to a received e-mail note, configure your software so that
it does not automatically copy the entire message you originally received
to your your reply to that message. If you wish to comment on specific
parts of a received message, copy-and-paste only those parts of the
message into your reply.
- Do Not Send 'Attachments' Unless It Is Absolutely Necessary and
Permission Has Been Received
Do not append 'attachments' to your e-mail notes unless (a) this is the
only method by which the information you are sending can be conveyed in
its proper format; and (b) you have first checked with the recipient that
they can receive 'attachments' in the format you are considering.
Sending e-mail as plain text in the body of an e-mail note (not as an
attachment) is always the easiest and most reliable way for recipients to
receive your information. If you are sending 4-5 paragraphs or ordinary
text which you happened to compose in Word, copy-and-paste the text from
Word to the body of your e-mail software rather than sending it as an
If you are sending a highly formatted text, such as an academic paper
with lots of boldface, italics, different fonts, etc., then an attachment
will be necessary. RTF format should be used unless
the text contains images or other exceptional formatting which may be lost
with RTF. In this case check with the intended recipient whether some
other format, such as PDF, can be used.
PK5 Reference Index
Last Updated 12 April 2010