E-Mail Guidelines and Etiquette

Here are useful tips, rules, and guidelines for sending electronic mail, ordinary mail, thank you notes, and other routine communications.

These tips are for communicating with everyone, not just for communicating with us.


Contact Us
Need A Descriptive Subject Line
Save What You Got, Repeatedly
Don't Click Blue Words in Messages
Swamped? Put Speed Over Accuracy
Thank You Notes

Contact Us

If you have an idea or suggestion for our web pages, please feel free to call or write (or send an email).

January 2009. Our web site is being re-assembled here at Cockam Dot Com. There will be broken links during this transition.

Allan W. Jayne, Jr.
P.O. Box 762
Nashua, NH  03061

Our contact information is subject to change. Check back here for any updates. If you click on the address as shown and you do not get a page on which you can type a quick e-mail message, you will have to use your own internet service provider's e-mail system. Also the e-mail page for a quick message does not work with all browsers and internet service providers.

Please be understanding. We regret that, due to the volume of e-mail we cannot reply personally to all inquiries and also we are unable to return telephone calls outside our local area.


All of the material on our web site is original unless otherwise noted. We generally abide by fair usage guidelines such as those published by colleges and univesities, for example:


You may not reproduce large amounts of text from our web site on another web site. Any of our material you utilize and/or reproduce must be acknowledged as belonging to us (or to others whom we have acknowledged) using footnotes or other commonly used guidelines such as suggested in the reference immediately above.

Material we have published here and which we have also submitted to other web sites may be reproduced at will without acknowledgement but we may continue to use and publish that material ourselves. You are responsible for determining whether any material we have created and which you should find elsewhere was indeed submitted by us.

Updated 12/16/06

Go to other topics.

Don't Forget the Subject Line  (July 2002)

Be sure to fill in the subject line with something very descriptive. Otherwise the recipient may think your message is junk mail (spam) and the message will be deleted without being read.

General words like "Question" or "Howdy" standing alone are not good enough and will still result in messages being deleted without being read.

We suggest that you type the subject line first, and also double check to be sure it is correct before sending the e-mail message.

Save What You Got, Often

It is a good idea to type e-mail messages into a word processor and ssve them there, and then cut and paste them into the e-mail program. This way, if the power goes out or if a message was lost or accidentally deleted by the recipient, you don't have to type it all over again.

As with any lengthy piece of work you do on a computer, you need to save "what you got so far" several times during your work session.

This of course means you need to know more about your computer.

Sometimes your e-mail system lets you save the message repeatedly before you send it.

Swamped By Too Much Mail Or E-mail?  (Updated 6/98)

Try the Speed Note (R) Style!

"Scribble a reply." That is, just sketch out some things you would like to say. Don't bother to spell check. End your reply with a short phrase such as "More later"

If you can type something and click the send button within two and a half minutes of clicking the reply button, you are "doing good".

A recent new article mentioned that the average office worker gets about 190 interruptions per day including telephone calls, e-mail messages, co-workers poking their heads in the door, etc.

Several years ago, talk show host Bruce Williams was saying that after he as a hiring manager did a typical Sunday paper job posting, he would get a stack of resumes which, if he spent all day, would give him an average of eight seconds each. Of course if some resumes get more than 8 seconds of attention, others were going to get less! Bruce's advice was for the job seeker to compose a cover letter that fit on one page and that would catch and keep the hiring manager's attention.

Here is an excerpt from an article on business travel (Oct. 97); its URL was:


"Researchers are starting to talk publicly for the first time about results of a follow-up study into what causes the [stress] problems and how they may be alleviated. A report on the topic was presented last week at Johns Hopkins [University].

"It's the adjustment process of coming home," says Bernard Liese, director of health services at the World Bank. "You should be a loving husband or wife, but you're tired. You have 186 e-mail messages. You can't switch off."

Strained family relations, such as a spouse who resents the other for travel, can add to the burden. Difficulties balancing work and family, along with work overload, may trigger the psychological reactions."

Speed Note is a trademark of a stationery company (I forget its name) that makes multi-part carbon copy forms including some whose top half is for a memo and the bottom half is for a reply.

Swamped By Too Complicated E-Mail?

If you think you need to use the word "if" in your reply a lot, that means the sender needs to narrow down on his question.

The following approach will usually get the sender to narrow down. Suppose the answer really needs three "if this then do that's". Give him just one of them. If the answer does not fit what the sender was really inquiring about, the sender will graciously ask again this time being more specific.

You can also ask questions instead of giving answers, to get the sender to be more specific. Example:

Q:  My TV pictures has horizontal lines criss crossing, what is the cause:

A: (in the form of questions) How many horizontal lines are there, how thick are they, how long are they, what color are they, how far apart are they?

Thank You Notes

Ever wonder why the grandchildren or the newlyweds don't send thank you notes for gifts promptly (or at all)?

Try to remember your grade school years. Did you have writer's block when it came time to do that composition or book report? How long did it take you to write the first sentence?

Are thank you notes supposed to be essays? Somehow when I see it from this angle I think the answer is "no".

Go out and buy some nice thank you notes from the stationery store and send them instead.

See, also, the preceding article.

Don't Click Blue Words In E-Mail Messages

Don't click the blue words even if the message says they will close your account or charge you a late fee. Otherwise a fake web site can steal your password.

Instead go directly to the web site, such as PayPal, Amazon.com, your bank, your airline frequent flier accouint, your telephone company, your Internet service provider, or whatever, and log in in the normal fashion.

If you did click such blue words in any e-mail message, don't enter any passwords to any accounts unless you close down the browser, hang up the modem if applicable, and log back onto the Internet. It is possible that by going to a web site via the blue link, other links got modified and later attempts to go to a legitimate web site send you to a bogus web site.

Click here for more but don't type your password.

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All parts (c) copyright 2003-9, Allan W. Jayne, Jr. unless otherwise noted or other origin stated.