Email Tips

Guest Byte from Tom McGrath

Today’s Byte is a guest Byte from Tom McGrath
in Minnesota. Tom sent me this great suggestion and I asked if I could use it pretty much asis.I find that I am receiving more and more email that has the look and feel of spam or virus mail. In fact, some real people can compose email that looks more like spam and virus infected mail than virus and spam generators can manage.

My personal rules are:

Always start the email with a reference that will assure the recipient that it was not written by a bot. (Referring to a previous communication or specific issue in the first paragraph will accomplish this.)

Explain clearly what any attachments are in language that could not be anticipated by a virus.

Avoid non-standard abbreviations, especially in the subject. I have seen my spam filter, a Bayesian filter, send legit emails to Junk
Suspects when the subject used multiple non-standard abbreviations. I think it picks these up as the nonsense words that are often used to try to fool these kinds of filters.


I receive my email using Outlook. I use it with the auto-preview (not preview pane) turned on. This lets me see the first three lines of the message without opening it. Based on what is in these first three lines I determine if I will open the message or not. Do I ever make a mistake and junk an email I would prefer to open. Maybe, how will I ever know! Still I think everyone would be well advised to make the subject and first lines of the email they send beg to be opened.

(Ann’s note – I would agree and emphasize good use of subject lines. I try to get as specific as possible both to let folks know my message isn’t spam but also so that it’s easy for them to find later if they archive it.)

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