What situations might you avoid sending an email, and instead write a letter or memo? When sending an email, how can you be sure you are following good “netiquette”? What are some things to be careful to avoid when using email?
(NOTE: below is a theoretical response as digital communication today has largely changed the effectiveness of making and using letters and memos).
Based on what I already know and read, situations where sending an email may not be the best option include but are not limited to: contacting a business for employment, offering to sell a service or product to someone or some place, and requesting information regarding important documents or personal information. In all three cases, writing a letter or memo should be universally known to be the best solution.
Looking at the first scenario, if searching for employment, one should definitely put out a letter to inquire about and initiate a conversation in obtaining a job interview (emails here mostly get ignored, especially if a business has more than one email or an email specifically for customer inquiries) as doing so is more direct and formal in place of being casual; sending an email may suggest and evoke laziness.
If selling to potential prospects, one should also refrain from sending out emails as many could be marked as spam and the rest may be ignored anyway; sending out direct mail in the form of a descriptive but formal letter is more reputable as it shows that someone is serious about communicating and is a legitimate person or entity (this is considering that emails can be traced back to unknown URLs where the identity of a sender is all the more questionable).
And lastly, if inquiring for personal information or documents, a letter or memo sent to a proper recipient is more formal and safer as it allows for one to visibly track records of sending and receiving info physically in contrast to what goes on through the web digitally (although this can be argued against since the web is relatively safer now than a decade ago).
Upon sending an email, demonstrating good “netiquette” simply means adhering to safe, formal and socially polite standards (similar to behavioral etiquette) of typing anything. Comprehensively, having good netiquette encompasses the following practices: taking a look before sending a message (don’t send anything you don’t want to be seen), keeping emails short and to the point, writing perfect subject lines (correct spelling and be descriptive) and never forwarding spam/hoax emails to others (report them only if the recipient) among many other pointers.
Along the same lines as maintaining proper netiquette, one should be mindful to avoid behaviors that may seem intelligible through physical action that may not be easily translatable over the web, like for example using irony or sarcasm in emails or text as these may almost always not be interpreted as such (unless otherwise *specified*). Furthermore, avoiding slang language in formal writing should be widely understood as improper and casual.
Other than what has been already mentioned, one additional tip I can offer with emails is to make sure that attachments and photos are read visibly and resized accordingly. As a graphic design major, I also make sure to check the resolution and size of my photos so that my recipients can easily see them without any problem. Furthermore, attachments should almost always be in PDF format as they are easily downloadable and can be opened in any browser and operating system (other formats can corrupt a document’s text).