"Netiquette" is a combination of the words "Internet" and "etiquette." It is a term used to describe the established guidelines for proper behavior and good conduct on the Internet. When communicating electronically, you do not have the luxury of your tone of voice, body language, or hand gestures aiding you in getting your point across clearly. Therefore, Internet users have developed some widely accepted techniques that contribute to proper "Netiquette." Being mindful of the several tips listed below will ensure that your communications over the Internet will not offend anyone.

bulletFilename: j0414034.jpg
File Size: 483 KBKeep your messages short and to the point.
Many people do not like reading long messages on a computer screen, or worse, on the small screen of a cell phone or other mobile device.

bulletFilename: j0433180.jpg
File Size: 596 KB
Provided by: iStockphoto.comCheck your spelling.
Nobody likes trying to read an e-mail with spelling mistakes. Most e-mail programs today include spell checkers. Please, check your spelling before sending your messages.

bulletUse plain text.
Elaborate text formatting such as Rich Text Format, HTML, and other fancy e-mail formats can arrive as gibberish to the recipient if their mail client cannot properly decipher the message. To make sure that your message is readable, use a plain text format unless you are told otherwise by the recipient.

bulletUse mixed-case letters.
Using all capital letters is considered SHOUTING, and is in bad taste. Using all lower-case letters can make your message difficult to read. Make sure that you turn off your caps lock before you start typing an e-mail message, discussion group posting, or any other form of online communication.

bulletSummarize the contents of your messages in the subject line.
Summarizing the contents of your messages in the subject will assist the recipient in organizing and prioritizing his or her e-mail.

bulletCompose your e-mails as though they will be posted publicly.
E-mail is not as private as you may think once it leaves your computer. Your e-mail can very easily be forwarded by the recipient or printed out and left somewhere. If your message is safe to read in public, it is safe enough for e-mail.

bulletOnly Carbon Copy (CC) your message to those who need to read it.
People receive a lot of extraneous e-mail messages these days. Carbon copying your message to those who do not really need to read it will only add to the problem.

bulletUse Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) when sending a message to a large group of people (especially those who may not know each other).
Using Blind Carbon Copy to send your message to a large group prevents the recipients from seeing the list of e-mail addresses that the message was sent to. By listing all recipients in the "To" field of your message, you are effectively broadcasting each person's e-mail address to everyone else on the list.

bulletOnly send your e-mail messages to those recipients who wish to receive them.
Most bulk e-mail (e-mail that is sent to a large number of people) is considered to be spam (junk e-mail). Spam e-mail is considered to be annoying and unwanted by most people. Unless the message needs to be read by a large number of people (and in that case you should use blind carbon copy), do not send it.

bulletInclude your name at the bottom of your message.
Some older e-mail programs do not make it easy to identify the sender of an e-mail message. Including your name and return e-mail address at the bottom of your message makes it easier for the recipient to identify and respond to you.

bulletKeep file attachments as small as possible.
Large attachments (files over two megabytes) can clog up the recipient's e-mailbox and can also cause problems with older mail systems. Unless the recipient gives explicit permission to do so, do not send attachments larger than two megabytes.

bulletDo not re-distribute material that is not yours.
This is essentially copyright infringement. Taking images from another's website for re-distribution, forwarding a personal e-mail message, or sharing files or phrases that do not belong to you is considered to be rude and in many cases, illegal. Materials include: e-mail messages, images, programs, music, movies, etc. This practice is often referred to as "leeching" files.

bulletKeep your signatures or "sig files" short.
Signature files are usually composed of an individual's contact information and placed at the end of their e-mail message. Signatures longer than 4-6 lines can get confusing and difficult to read.

bulletUse abbreviations wisely.
In the quest to shorten e-mail messages, many people use abbreviations for common phrases. Typical abbreviations such as BTW and FYI are acceptable to use, but less well-known abbreviations might be inappropriate or confusing to those who are new to the Internet.

bulletThink before you hit the "send" button.
Sending harsh, attacking, and otherwise abusive e-mail messages is called "flaming." It is very easy to respond to an e-mail quickly without thinking about the ramifications of what you are saying. Misinterpreting an e-mail message and then firing back a flame response is very easy to do and only leads to confusion and further flame messages.

Sending a flame message to someone who has "flamed" you will only worsen the situation. The most agreed upon course of action is to not respond to a flame message.

bulletRead the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
Most mailing lists, discussion groups, and newsgroups have prepared a Frequently Asked Questions document that offers answers to the most commonly asked questions. Asking questions that are already covered in the FAQ is often considered rude.

bulletAlways "lurk" in message boards, newsgroups, and forums before making your first post.
"Lurking" basically means that you are simply reading the posts of others without actually posting yourself. Many online forums have very specific rules of conduct and it is always suggested that you find out as much as you can about the general operation of a forum before actually posting.

bulletFollow the rules.
If a website, discussion group, or mailing list has posting guidelines in place, follow them. Failure to do so often irritates the administrators and could get you kicked out of the group or off of the website.