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You know that writing in all caps equates to shouting online, and that emoticons in professional emails are a no-no, but did you know that Miss Manners has been doling out computer etiquette for almost 40 years? On Aug. 26, 1984, Miss Manners addressed the use of a computer to prepare personal correspondence in her newspaper column, telling her readers that using a word processor to write a letter could result in the end product being mistaken for a sweepstakes entry—and that duplicating content in multiple letters could offend the recipients if one was caught. (One wonders if she has discovered the glories of mail merge.)

Communication dos and don’ts

Over the years, Miss Manners (also known as Judith Martin) has issued dos and don’ts related to all manner of electronic communication and behavior in an evolving world. As early as 1997, Miss Manners was sagely advising that a cell phone was “not a passport into an etiquette-free zone.” In April 2018, she told a reader that using “Hi” as a salutation was “cheeky, or at least too breezy for business correspondence.”

Her counterparts at the Emily Post Institute have also dished up their share of “netiquette” as well, including this useful bit of advice any network administrator can appreciate: “Don’t accept packages from strangers.” In other words, don’t open attachments from unknown sources! Emily Post also covers the critical difference between BCC and CC and the importance of resisting the temptation to reply-all.

It’s good to know technological advances have kept the doyens of etiquette busy. We’d love to see their take on Slack.

Photo:  MyImages – Micha / Shutterstock.

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Kate Johanns

Posted by Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.

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