Email Etiquette for Dummies

It seems a lot of people do not understand the meaning of Reply All.   This is a very handy tool.  But over use of it,  or using it in the wrong circumstances can cause a lot of anger or annoyance for people on the receiving end of your “pearls of wisdom”,  to say the least!

  • Replying all at the wrong time can be rude because the sender may not have wanted all responses to be visible to everyone.
  • It’s pretty boring to spend the whole day deleting monosyllabic responses to something that never even applied to you in the first place.
  • This is not to say that there is never a time when “reply all” should be used — it’s just that time isnot all the time.

Here are some simple rules about when Reply All is appropriate

  • If your response will cause other people to do something different then yes, reply all.
  • If your response will have absolutely no effect on other people and is “thanks” or “ok” then no, don’t reply all.
  • In personal communication, reply all should be used for group invites with 10 or fewer people and on discussion threads where at least 70 percent of recipients are actively participating.
  • At work, reply all should be used when you have something valuable to add to the conversation or when you disagree with whatever is being proposed.
  • In general, agreement with a work email is assumed, so an email saying you agree doesn’t really need to be a reply at all.

Using Google Mail (gmail)

  • If you use Gmail, you can use the mute button to silence redundant replies from people who haven’t mastered the art of when not to reply all.
  • If you no longer want to see new replies to a thread just click on the message, then click “Mute” under the “More options” button in the Gmail tool bar.
  • Incoming messages on this thread will still be archived with the conversation but will not show up as a new message. If you want to find these conversations later just search for “is:muted.”
  • Read through the following scenarios to see when to “reply one” and when to reply all.


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