The Practical Radical

8 things I wish everyone knew about email by Seth Godin | April 23, 2010

Seth Godin is a well know blogger who get’s it right a good percentage of the time. Read on about 10 (I added two at the bottom) email smarts:

  1. Change your settings so that email from you has a name, your name, not a blank or some unusual characters, in the from field. (ask a geek or IT person for help if you don’t know how).
  2. Change your settings so that the bottom of every email includes a signature (often called a sig) that includes your name and your organization.
  3. Change your settings so that when you reply to a note, the note you’re replying to is included below what you write (this is called quoting).
  4. Don’t hit reply all. Just don’t. Okay, you can, but read this first.
  5. You can’t recall an email you didn’t mean to send. Some software makes you think you can, but you can’t. Not reliably.
  6. Email lives forever, is easy to spread and can easily show up in discovery for a lawsuit.
    Please don’t ask me to save a tree by not printing your email. It doesn’t work, it just annoys the trees.
  7. Send yourself some email at a friend’s computer. Read it. Are the fonts too big or too small? Does it look like a standard email? If it doesn’t look like a standard, does this deviation help you or hurt you? Sometimes, fitting in makes sense, no?
  8. And a bonus tip from Cory Doctorow, who gets more email than you and me combined: When you go on vacation, set up an autoreply that says, “I’m on vacation until x/x/2010. When I get back, I’m going to delete all the email that arrived while I was gone, so if this note is important, please send it to me again after that date.”

From Practical Radical: I would add two more –

9.  If you wouldn’t say it face to face, don’t say it in an email.

10.  Sit on it. I often have a drafted email that i don’t send for a day or more, especially if it is to do with an emotional   or really important issue (which are often one and the same).

Posted in Technology


  1. There is one other one I would add. Much like drunk driving, drunk emailing is likely to end poorly. At best it will be incoherent and the recipient will be confused and perhaps mock you somewhat. At worst, well, if you need the worst explained, then go ahead and drink and email!

    Comment by joe — April 30, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

    • yes, i would agree. emailing of any type while intoxicated, stressed or otherwise disturbed is not a great idea. Sure to bring about pain.

      Comment by practicalradical — April 30, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

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