Winkyface Writing: Everything You Wish Your Parents Knew About Email

Welcome to a new series of writing-related etiquette posts: Winkyface Writing.

What is winkyface? It’s a tone of voice you can use when you want to be polite, but you need to get shit done.

This series will help you combine being polite + getting shit done, with quick-to-implement writing tips for work, play, and whatever you do when you’re not working or playing (please don’t tell me).

Email? Oh, my.
Email is magical. And terrifying.

Part 1
Everything You Wish Your Parents Knew About Email

You can always tell when someone is uncomfortable writing an email. The first paragraph starts with something ridiculous, like “Salutations!” or “Dear Madam,” and the rest devolves from there.

It’s a shame, because email was designed to be so easy, and these fools make it so hard. Never fear: here are some easy tips for better email etiquette.

If your parents, well-meaning but misguided neighbors, or other Olds you care about are writing emails, make sure they read this post. Even if you have to print it out in large type and tape it to their walkers.

Nota bene: These tips aren’t just for the geriatric set. Email etiquette is for everyone. Especially you. Yes, you over there, with the shirt on.

STOP WITH THE ALL-CAPS.

Your Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Re:Fwd: does not become more urgent with the addition of capital letters. If you would not shout in someone’s face, do not scream into their inbox.

Use BCC, because it’s polite.

That extra address field below “To” says “CC,” and it means “Carbon Copy”. As you know, every email address you enter into this field will receive a copy of your email.

Instead of CCing everyone you know on a mass email, or–God forbid–entering every email address into the “To” field, use BCC, or “Blind Carbon Copy”.

BCC hides all of your recipients’ email addresses from each other. By using it, you will avoid sharing your contacts’ email addresses with the world, potentially exposing them to spammers and definitely making them think you’re an idiot.

Schedule emails with Boomerang.

Now you don’t have to risk sending a 4 am email to all of those people whose email addresses you’ve mistakenly placed in the “To” field. Schedule it for 7:30 am instead!

Always enter a relevant subject line.

“No subject” serves no one.

If there is a thread, maintain the thread.

Don’t spam people’s inboxes with multiple emails about the same thing. It’s called a thread for a reason–like a spool of regular ol’ sewing thread, it is continuous, and helps make up a whole something (whether that’s a piece of clothing or a discussion).

Use paragraph breaks.

If you’re not going to abide by the Five Sentences rule, at least break up your endless emails into paragraphs. Max out at three lines per paragraph.

Your emails will be easier for people to skim, and thus easier for them to read, period, if you break up big blocks of text. See what I did there?

Don’t include a giant image in your signature.

It just keeps getting reattached to the email, and then it looks like you’ve sent a lot of really important attachments when in fact, it’s just your dumb company logo.

For more fun email etiquette, check out Charm School.

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