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What is good email forwarding etiquette?

A reader from Montrose, CA said that he gets lots of emails that often have pages of annoying email forwarding history on top. That’s what happens when someone forwards an email and leaves the previous sender’s recipient list on top of the message. The next person does the same thing when they forward it on to their list of friends, and so on, and so on. Not only does this make for an ugly, hard-to-read email, but it exposes all those people’s email addresses to a bunch of strangers.

If that’s not enough to convince you not to do it, then realize that it is considered extremely tacky, and many of us quickly hit “delete” when we see that mess. If you really wanted your recipients to read the email, why not make it easy on them and set a good example at the same time.

In this video, I show you good email forwarding etiquette, including how to:

  • Quickly remove the email forwarding history;
  • Pretty up the email by removing excess indentation and/or converting to plain text;
  • Clean up the subject line;
  • Use “bcc” instead of “to”.
Video too small? Watch full screen by clicking the YouTube Full Screen button button here

I can’t emphasize enough how much using “bcc” helps this scourge of ugly emails. In addition to not sharing your recipient’s email addresses with each other, it also means that there are no visible email addresses for their email program to insert into the top of the message when they forward it to their friends.

That’s all there is to it. Follow those simple steps and you’ll be doing your part to make the world a better place. If everyone did this the problem would quickly vanish.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Helen Allrn May 11, 2011, 8:31 am

    this video had such small print it was hard to follow the instructions!

    • Steve May 11, 2011, 10:13 am

      Hi Helen, sorry about that. I didn’t really think you’d want to read the actual email in the example, but point taken. Soon I’m going to add a way for you to easily view larger versions of these videos. Until I do, here’s a link to the high definition version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SOYX7llSMA&hd=1

      Did that help?

    • Steve May 20, 2011, 10:07 pm

      Hi again Helen. Thanks to your comment, I’m placing instructions under every video showing how to watch in full screen. How’s that?

  • barb May 11, 2011, 4:34 pm

    Wow, amazing stuff! Thanks!

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