1. First impressions. The agreed formula is to begin with the name of the addressee: don't use the fuddy-buddy "Dear Bob". but simply "Bob" A cherry "Hiya" is over familiar. Simply launching into your message is unduly abrupt, unless the two of you are regular correspondents rapidly sending messages back and forth.
2. Mind your manners. NEVER WRITE MESSAGES IN CAPITAL LETTERS - it's considered the Internet equivalent to shouting. Because e-mail takes place in the absence of the recipient, it lacks the inhibition imposed by their presence (even if only on the phone), so it's easy to be rude or think that e-rudeness doesn't count.
3. Think before your send. E-mails fired off in haste may cause lifetimes of repentance. Before you press that button, pause. Do you really mean that insult, threat or offer of money? Would you like to get the message you're about to send? Are you prepared to honor any offers or threats you make?
4. You've got mail. Always check your messages. Only a fool would leave his post lying around unopened or not listen to his answering machine. The same applies to your e-mail inbox. There is a film producer who hands out his e-mails address but says, "Don't bother e-mailing me. I never check it" Why have it in the first place?
5. Cyberspeak with care. Picasso was a technically brilliant draughtsman, so when he painted women with both eyes on once side of their heads he did so as a matter of creative choice. Similarly, you should not write e-mails in abbreviated or poor English - such as "c ya tonite" or "lol", meaning "laugh out loud" - unless you have demonstrated a grasp of the real thing. Otherwise you risk being exposed as a fake.
6. Don't techno bully. The internet has its own snobbery, and Web geeks can be terribly rude to those less computer literate. The considerate e-mailer, however, never looks down on those who can't work the latest gizmos and checks with the recipient that they have the equipment required to read a message or open an attachment. It is not a crime to baffled by the Web, particularly since its greatest experts are often baffled by life.
7. Beware mass mailing. It is never flattering to receive an e-mail then discover it has been sent to hundreds of others. Mass mailing are acceptable when sending jokes or invitations, but unacceptable as chain letters. If you have to send a message to everyone in your address book, keep the other names hidden using blind carbon copy (bcc), unless you know they are friends or colleagues.
8. Say something nice. Some etiquette experts feel that invitations, acceptances and thank-yous should be sent via old fashioned post. I disagree. More over, a positive e-mail, be it words of congratulations or affection, can brighten a day.
9. Never e-dump lovers. On the other hand, it is bad form to give anyone the heave-ho by e-mail. If you must write, rather than see them face to face, it is more respectful to do so by hand. The casualness of e-mail is as insulting as it is dismissive.
10. Write for the record. Use e-mail as a chance to recreate the joys of letter writing. Telephone conversations vanish into the ether, but all the e-mails you've ever sent or received are sitting on a hard disk. Who knows? Others may want to read them some day. So remember to put some care into your correspondence.