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Forward Thinking

Another email about email.

People love to talk with me about email. They especially love to tell me what bugs them about it. There is a lot to be said for proper email etiquette.

We’ve talked about capital letters, reply vs reply-all, blind copies, and what to do with unwanted email. Today’s email topic: how to forward emails without annoying your recipients.

1. Resist the urge to forward everything you get to everyone you know

Not everything is “amazing,” “incredible,” or “hilarious.” The more generic emails you send, the more likely your recipients are to delete them without reading them. Eventually your friends will miss an email you really need them to read. Use some discretion.

2. Hand-pick your recipients

Share cute dog pictures with your dog-loving friends, but not with everyone else. Only forward political, religious, controversial, and even humorous content to those you know share your views. Appreciating your readers individually goes a long way.

3. Delete the list of addresses that precedes the email you are forwarding

When you click “forward,” not only are you forwarding the content of the email, you are also forwarding all of the information about the original email: who sent it to you, when, and who else received it. This could be many many people. And, if before you received it, the email had been forwarded many times to many people each time, there could be “pages” of addresses to scroll past before seeing the intended content. To delete all of this extraneous information, click to “forward” the original email, and then highlight everything up to the message content. Press the delete key to erase the selection.

4. Copy the person who sent you the original email

Often in personal and business email — where timely communication about a specific topic among a select few is vital — it is appropriate to copy the person who sent the original email so they are aware that you forwarded it and to whom.

Proper email etiquette demands “forward” thinking. Now you know.

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