Denver Bar Association
November 2007
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E-mail Etiquette 2007: Part Three

by Leonard I. Frieling

In the last column (June 2007), we began a list of E-mail Listserv Rules of Order (ELRO).

Rule Seven: Attachments — don’t use them

Why? Some listervs do not permit attachments and others limit the size of attached files. Attachments clog e-mail accounts and often don’t get through. While text/word-processor files generally are small, high-resolution pictures, movies and other "media" attachments can be huge. A five-megabyte picture file is 100 times as large as a 50K text file. Even a moderately sized attachment can be excruciatingly large for people connecting by modem and dial-up connection. Sending an Excel, Word or WordPerfect file as an attachment will be problematic if the recipient doesn’t have those programs installed on his/her computer. And, with many people handling e-mail from Blackberrys and iPhones, bigger is not better for attachments.

What do you do if you want to send an attachment? Paste the text of the attachment in the body of the letter. Or, if the file must be attached, use commonly available and used formats, such as PDF, JPG, TXT or RTF. Attaching a photo in a proprietary format, such as PSP (Paint Shop Pro) is about as useful as writing a pleading in Greek. I recommend using PDF (portable document format). Both Word and WordPerfect can "publish" or "print" to PDF, which creates a new file in the PDF format. PDF files are opened and viewed with Adobe Acrobat Reader, a common, easy-to-use, free download; and yes, PDF also works with Macs.

Rule Eight: Include links properly

Many e-mails properly include Internet URLs or links. Unless the reader has a security setting that automatically makes the links inactive, the reader can click on the link in the e-mail, and instantly be taken to the website. If links are inoperable, the reader can highlight, copy and paste it into the Internet Browser. There is an important trick to making links work properly. Often, a long link may appear fine in the outgoing version of the mail, but will be parsed by the reader’s e-mail client. To ensure that the link is parsed properly, use those funny < and > characters. For example, instead of typing http://www.Amazon.com/ssdlfk/lskdjf/sldfkj, add < before the http, and > at the end. That tells the receiving computer that the text between < and > is one long link, and should be seen as such.

Rule Nine: Filter your e-mails

Your e-mail permits you to set up filters (called "Rules" in Outlook mail). You can create a folder into which all mail from a specific listserv is automatically sorted. Within the folder you can sort the mail alphabetically, chronologically, or otherwise.

For example, I have a folder named "Clients." Within that folder, I have created a subfolder for every client who uses e-mail. I have created a "rule" that sends every e-mail from that client’s address, and every outgoing e-mail to that client’s e-mail address, into the same client folder. Aside from printing every e-mail to and from a client, I believe there is no more practical or simple way to retrieve and review a series of e-mails to and from a specific client. A second folder is named "Client Archives." When a client folder is no longer in active use, I drag and drop the whole client folder into the Client Archives for later reference.

I have about 100 other folders, including "Friends and Family," "Orders," "Sidzbrain," (all e-mails between me and my friend Toby go straight to this folder), "Travel," "Tickets," and more. Let the computer do your sorting work. A note for those late to the filter game: In Outlook, you can open your Inbox, create a rule with one e-mail, and then apply the rule to the entire Inbox, sorting all letters that fit the rule. Worried about missing these e-mails if they go straight to your folders? Change your view! Rather than using the default Inbox as your main screen, select the "Unread Mail" option instead. You will be able to see every unread letter, each in its own sorted mailbox, organized alphabetically.

Rule Ten: Minimize annoyance

For one listserv in which I’m an active participant, there are one or two people who annoy me. I don’t care what they say, and I don’t care what they ask. I have set a filter/rule to send their e-mails directly to the Junk mailbox. (Note: It is important to occasionally scan through the Junk mailbox before emptying it. I’ve found important letters appear in the Junk mailbox for no obvious reason. Some have been from DAs. Perhaps Outlook knows something I don’t.)

Rule Eleven: Don’t be a victim

You would think that most of us have been around long enough to instinctively spot hoaxes and scams. It just ain’t so. Please, before forwarding an e-mail that seems urgent to everyone you know, at least check it out on http://www.snopes.com. Many of these "important" e-mails, demanding immediate circulation to everyone in your e-mail contact list, are in fact years old, debunked years ago and are just making another round. If forwarding this garbage is not spam, then I don’t know what is!

Until next time …


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