Agriculture Communication


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Email Etiquette

 Addressing Your Message

  • Target your message. Use the listservs list.
  • Think of your email message screen as letterhead. Start your message with a greeting, and keep it professional.
  • Use a meaningful, clear, direct subject line, not something vague such as “Question” or “Save the date.”
  • Don’t reply on a totally different topic and leave the subject line.
  • Do not reply to all unless absolutely necessary.
  • Use return receipt only when you really need to make sure the other person received the message.
  • Use a personal email address for personal messages.
  • For important messages, those to large groups or those that will take time to write, you may want to put your own email address in the To field until you're ready to send it to the target audience.

Writing Your Message

  • Be concise and direct, and get to the point. Write clear short sentences and short paragraphs.
  • Be friendly, but write the message professionally using standard spelling, punctuation, capitalization and grammar.
  • Keep typefaces, backgrounds, etc. simple.
  • Use bullets.
  • Boldface important phrases.
  • Avoid all caps.
  • Include deadlines if appropriate.
  • Use a concise signature.

Before Hitting Send

  • Proofread, and review for 5 W’s and H: who, what, when, where, why, how.
  • Read it out loud to make sure it has the tone you want.
  • Maybe walk away and read it again later before sending.
  • Double-check the recipient and maybe even add the address last.
  • Use the phone if the issue can be solved quicker or easier with a conversation.


  • If forwarding or replying, delete unnecessary information from the message, especially other people’s email addresses.
  • If the sender is expecting something from you based on the email but it will take you time, just let the sender know you received the message and are working on it.
  • It may be appropriate for you to embed your answers into the sender's message. Just be sure to say so at the top, mark your responses and leave plenty of space.
  • Respond within a reasonable time frame, though, of course, that definition varies.


  • Know your recipient if sending outside office hours.
  • Our emails are open records in North Dakota.
  • Don't email usernames, passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive information.
  • Avoid sending unnecessarily large files as attachments. Resize digital photos to make them smaller.
  • Empty junk mail and delete folders regularly.
  • Type unto others as you would have them type unto you. from 101 Email Etiquette Tips
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