Email Etiquette (Tip 2)

Use of the organization’s email is a service provided by ICT to every member of staff to facilitate formal required standard mode of official communication to support day to day relay of information among staff and external stakeholders.

The following are guiding tips on email etiquette that you need to be aware of and follow whenever communicating on email.

1. Do you understand the use of “reply all" function?     

Do not hit "reply all" unless every member on the e-mail chain needs to receive your reply. You want to make sure that you are not sending everyone on a list your answer—whether they needed to know or not.

2. Do you send, copy (Cc) or Blind copy (Bcc) your recipients as required?

Before you click “Send” or put names on the “Cc” or “Bcc” lines, ask yourself if all the recipients need the information in your message. If they don't, why send it? Take time to send your messages to the right people.

When sending emails to all staff, ensure you put the email recipient under Bcc: this will prevent the recipient from replying to all.

At the top of the email ensure you indicate the group you have sent to eg.

"This email has been Bcc’d to all ICRAF staff to avoid reply all”

3. Do you maintain email security and privacy?

You are supposed to protect the confidentiality of your email access credentials and  exercise reasonable care to ensure that your accounts are not used by others. It is recommended that confidential information should not be sent by email to external parties.

4. Do you know your email audience?                                                

Your e-mail greeting and sign-off should be consistent with the level of respect and formality of the person you're communicating with. Also, write for the person who will be reading it – if they tend to be very polite and formal, write in that language.

5. Do you evaluate the importance of your e-mail?

Don't overuse the high priority option. If you overuse this feature, few people will take it seriously. A better solution is to use descriptive subject lines that explain exactly what a message is about.

6. Do you provide appropriate names to your attachments?

Always give the attached file(s) appropriate names so the recipient knows at a glance the subject and the sender.

7. Does your subject line match the message?

Avoid opening an old e-mail, hitting Reply, or sending a message that has nothing to do with the previous subject. Always ensure that the email subject is in line with the content. Please change the subject as soon as the thread or content of the e-mail chain changes. It’s preferable to create a new email if the new one doesn’t relate with the previous one.

8. Are you clear on your email subject line?

With inboxes being clogged by hundreds of e-mails a day, it's crucial that your subject line gets to the point. It should be reasonably simple and descriptive of what you have written about. Expect that any e-mail with a cute, vague, or obscure subject will get trashed. Also, proof your subject line as carefully as you would proof the rest of the e-mail.

9. Do you use shortcuts to real words, emoticons, jargon, or slang?

Using shortcuts such as "4 u" (instead of "for you"), "Gr8" (for great) in business-related e-mail is not acceptable. If you wouldn't put a smiley face or emoticon on your business correspondence, you shouldn't put it in an e-mail message. Any of the above has the potential to make you look less than professional.

Proper use of email comes down to integrity, reason and good practice!

Please refer to the ICT privacy and acceptable use policy and Email management and security policy for more details and guidance.

For assistance with this, do not hesitate to contact the respective Service Desk.

ILRI Kenya: or ext 3253

ICRAF: or ext 4207 / 4500

ILRI Addis: or ext 2180

For any comments, a topic that you’d like us to feature, or an ICT question you’d like addressed through this forum, send an email to or simply reply to this email.

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