January 13, 1997 12:45 PM PST

A new sort of online protocol

First there was spell check. Now notice has been served to email users about their faux pas.

Fabrik Communications, an email service provider for businesses, has created the E-mail Netiquette Guide, 12 tips for minding one's p's and q's in the digital world.

"Email is a casual form of communication because of the way it started, but people are starting to use it more and more for formal business communication," said Julie Welch, vice president of marketing. "An email from a single employee can go a long way."

Manners have crept their way onto the Net as it becomes a common business tool. An estimated 47 million people use email to communicate worldwide, making the medium a likely target for writers of professional protocol in the tradition of Emily Post.

And like the infamous Miss Manners' advice, the E-mail Netiquette Guide is free. Here's an abridged tip or two:

Tip No. 1: Consider email public information. Since messages can be easily leaked, write them professionally because you never know who will see them. Also, don?t include offensive or misleading phrases in the signature that may go against your company's policy.

Tip No. 2: Don?t shout. Writing in capital letters means you're screaming in the digital world. That's not nice. So to emphasize a word, place *asterisks* on either side.

Tip No. 3: Smile. Icons, such as 8), invoking a smile are OK to use and add personality.

Tip No. 4: Get to the Point. Email is supposed to increase efficiency. Write short paragraphs and edit messages.

Most of the tips are simple reminders to be polite. Fabrik's gospel is to keep it clean, check your work and remember that you are your company's representative when you send an email from work.

 

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