What does email style convey about the writer’s personality?

Like a first impression, the emails we send allow the recipient to judge us solely based on our choice of tone, punctuation and writing ability. We may come across as educated or illiterate, happy or disgruntled – it’s all in the delivery. As a recent study suggests, oftentimes the message you are trying to convey is not what ends up in someone’s inbox.

Communicology, the study of communication, draws on the principles of rhetoric, journalism, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and semiotics to better understand the vast ways in which we interact with one another. Within this expansive genre is the study of written communication.

The development of pictographs, a pictorial sign or symbol, among the Egyptian, Sumerian, and ancient Chinese civilizations led to one of the earliest known forms of written expression – cuneiform script.

Like the first pictograph some 5,000 years ago, email as a form of communication will always be a work in progress. “This is something that is so new for humans, and it’s a very artificial way to interact when you think about it,” noted study researcher Frank McAndrew, of Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.

McAndrew’s study examines the identity that can be created and thus interpreted by a person’s email style; pointing out that by understanding the types of judgments that we make and the way in which people process information from emails we can become better communicators.

One-hundred-and-sixty undergraduates were asked to read emails that contained small grammatical and stylistic adjustments. In addition, researchers added up to five exclamation points and question marks into the eighty-word text. Participants were asked to judge the emotional tone, decipher the relationship the writer had with the recipient, and guess the writer’s gender.

The participants perceived writers whose emails were filled with errors to be apathetic, while those  who wrote in the third person conveyed a sense of formality — and assumed by participants to be in a superior position. Apparently, the excessive use of question marks denotes anger on the writer’s part.

A writer who indulges in the overuse of exclamation points is thought to be feminine or happy.

While the study did not include the use of emoticons, find out here how those winks and smiley faces are bringing us back to where it all began.

Do these observations align with your own perceptions of email personality? Let us know.

Do you subscribe to a certain email etiquette and if so, what are some of your your email dos and don’ts? Let us know below.


  1. ssss -  October 14, 2015 - 2:31 am


  2. Tom -  May 28, 2015 - 1:58 pm

    WOuld be curious to know what typo’s say about personality type. FInd myself frequently capitalizing the first 2 letters in a capitalized word. I’ve also noted typo quirks in others as well.
    Thank you, Tom

  3. Cathy -  January 3, 2015 - 1:12 am

    Mostly, I only use an exclamation mark is to express horror and disgust, such as with “When I reported the corrupt activities of …….to the department that investigates corruption, and also provided the evidence of this to them, they did the same thing as …… and concocted a false document to cover it up too!

    I have never used an emoticon and I never will. I write in first person for the sake of authenticity and ownership of what I am saying. However in some types of formal academic work, when it is expected, I’ll avoid first person unless it is necessary.

    I excuse incorrect grammar and spelling because it will usually always be because English is the second language of the person writing it, or the person has suffered the disadvantage of not having access to a decent education system. I have even found that the later is the case in developed countries like Australia, although it is improving – a bit.

  4. Jason -  July 13, 2014 - 7:01 am

    I always have trepidation towards writing emails and I pour over them again and again to make sure there right. Whenever I can I try to get on the phone.

  5. David Goodrich -  June 9, 2014 - 7:27 pm

    Hello All (Warning: emoticon use!):

    A fascinating topic, which I happened to trip over when I was looking for research regarding the psychology of people that write strange emails, e.g. with odd structures, or very large fonts for their signatures, and so on.
    I enjoyed browsing the various comments, but not to be cruel, many sounded as if the writers had grasped exactly 50% of this “vast” subject :)

  6. Em -  April 28, 2014 - 4:44 pm

    Like so many elements of speech, dating back centuries (millennia?) before emails existed, context and audience are everything. I find it pretentious and elitist to act like people’s poor grammar, use of emoticons, use of excess punctuation, etc. are some kind of grave personal offense. Like it or not, colloquialisms have existed for an awfully long time, and there’s no reason to believe a new medium wouldn’t breed its own “unsophisticated” conventions. That said, recognizing your audience will always be important, and writers of sloppy emails (as well as Facebook comments, YouTube comments, online newspaper comments…) should probably be aware that they risk sounding like idiots. It’s important to recognize that lack of basic writing ability still, in 2014, WILL often make you sound unintelligent, immature, or careless to others.

    I’m always pretty bummed when I spend time and effort crafting a careful email, with what I consider appropriate formality, to a superior–and then the reply email contains typos, careless language, and statements that make it sound like the person has made a goal to spend < 30 seconds on any one email. (Often their tone is far more informal as well, with lots of stacked up exclamation marks!!!! and use of first names, but this bothers me a lot less than the seeming lack of regard for creating a reciprocally thoughtful email.)

    Oh yeah, and I've found emoticons useful in informal digital communication–but I always have a SAD FACE when websites turn my unassuming little punctuation marks into cheesy yellow icons. :(((( <VERY sad face.

    And I'm also annoyed when I can't use italics in most online communications, reducing me to using all caps, which sounds like I'm WAY ANGRIER than I want to sound. Ah, well.

    • Eoin -  November 9, 2014 - 9:12 am

      I have the same frustration with names of books, plays, and so on. Since previous technologies, like the typewriter or pen and paper, made it impossible (or at least impractical – it’s hard to fault someone not wanting to swap out balls on a Selectric only for a few words) to write italics, underlining was an acceptable substitute. Computer technology reads each character individually, so typing over and typing under a character is impossible. People can’t simply draw a line under a word or words or backspace and use the underline key, they need a special code. Italics are simple enough, assuming the system can interpret them (as you have pointed out, many don’t), but umlauts and tildes – easy on a typewriter, just backspace and type double quotes over the vowel or rollback the sheet and use a dash over the “n” – require learning a set of character codes on a computer.

    • Bruno -  December 5, 2014 - 12:54 pm

      This last point can be worked around somewhat by “tagging” your words with /italics/ or _underline_ substitutes, and of course *asterisks* bring the same kind of focus as bold text. It doesn’t make the best effect on more than one word, though.

    • Cathy -  January 3, 2015 - 12:43 am

      If I want to emphasize a word but can’t use italics, I underline the word I am wanting to emphasize. That way, I can be assertive, and no one can accuse me of shouting.

  7. David -  February 2, 2014 - 1:08 pm

    I dislike the over use of emotions, especially by female writers of text and emails, its completely ambiguous to me, and I believe its childish, also the use of short hand words.I mean my phone fills the full word it in for me! Most of the time I have to ask what people are saying when they use short hand words. The length of a text message says a lot to me, one being if you really need to talk that much, call me, lets talk in person or at least email your lengthy reponce. People hide behind typed words these days rather than talking, so they can have more time to think up what their going to say back. I know because I’ve been one to do it. Which changes the way communicate, filtering what we would actually say to one another. People also are not very careful with exclamations, and punctuation, which can easily give the wrong impression. I’d have a lot more spelling errors if it weren’t for auto correct, and I would like if it corrected my possible over use of commas, but hey at least I try. Actually I’m going to look up the use of commas now that I’m thinking about it ! Also I use “……..” often. To break up my message or a sentence, especially when I say something emotionally charged, or when I’m trying to give the impression of thoughtfulness.
    What does the use of ……… mean to you?

    • Patti -  October 22, 2014 - 3:56 pm

      “I dislike the over use of emotions, especially by female writers of text and emails…”.


      I feel so, very, extremely bad and upset about how ‘females’ text and email too much emotion!!! I think I may be getting my period early, this month, because of how shamed and worried I am that you have been subjected to and abused by overly emotional female texting and email!!!!

      PLEASE! I BEG OF YOU, SIR …Give ‘females’ another chance to please you!! It’s all we are living for, David. I’m soooooooooooooo sorry!!!!!!

      Hugs and kisses,


  8. acessorios para motociclistas -  December 16, 2013 - 9:02 am

    Fine way of explaining, and pleasant paragraph to take data regarding my presentation subject,
    which i am going to convey in school.

  9. wolf tamer and tree puncher -  November 19, 2013 - 6:39 am

    It’s so hard to put tone into an email. That’s why I like the emoticons. :-) I usually type texts/emails/blog posts (like this one) the same way I would write a paper. But we are all human. A couple typos never hurt anybody. (For example, I nearly wrote, “would right a paper” and “never heart anybody.”)

  10. Tamara -  September 13, 2013 - 5:40 pm

    I use a lot of dashes when I write instead of periods. I read in a book that Jackie O did this all the time in writing letters. I just wonder what that speaks of in a persons personality and temperament type.

  11. stella -  July 1, 2013 - 9:25 am

    I write in different styles to different people!!!!!!! : )

  12. Nhan -  March 8, 2013 - 2:32 pm

    In any electronic medium – from cell phones and instant messaging to forums and email – I will instantly block/ignore/remove anyone who shows a contempt for proper English sentence structure. Typos, errors and ignorance are one thing but anyone who shows a cavalier attitude toward capitalization will never be speaking to me again. I won’t even let my sisters text me, because they type like they’ve suffered brain damage.

  13. k -  November 16, 2012 - 6:28 pm

    sometimes i’ll lapse into “no-shift-key” mode, but i still correct spelling mistakes… I will use smiley faces/emoticons, but not every ten seconds. I almost never use CAPS and I sort of hate multiple exclamation points. Instead (and I know this is worse in a way), I go “ghajkdgfjakdl” to express excitement. Anyway… yeah. I’m pretty conversational, and I often forget a greeting/header, since I mostly just email friends.

  14. wafflez -  June 3, 2012 - 10:16 am

    I don’t like when the emoticons change into the yellow smiley faces: :) They just don’t convey as much emotion as the typed out ones. I don’t put a greeting on the beginning though. I just put a closing:


  15. Jo -  April 2, 2012 - 2:58 am

    Can you please reference the study you mentioned in the first paragraph?

  16. MissRedhead -  February 29, 2012 - 3:55 pm

    wow-ive just been mindblown by this facinating article – ♥ ha

  17. khryzel -  January 28, 2012 - 7:20 pm

    that is correct

  18. Rachel -  January 17, 2012 - 4:09 pm

    LOL or over-use of emoticons ;-) drive me freaking crazy in e-mail.

  19. Shannon -  December 20, 2011 - 8:51 am

    I <3 emoticons!! And exclamation points too obviously :) I start out my message without any opening name or anything but i end them with this:

    –Shannon B)

    It's cool cuz i have glasses but they're beast as shades :D

  20. Sue -  December 14, 2011 - 1:51 pm

    I try to use correct grammar and punctuation in emails, just as I try when I am speaking.
    I have always taken the time to write letters (yes I do write real letters to people !) correctly and this has carried over into emails. I also use smiley faces occasionally, both in letters and emails.
    I tend to use exclamation marks probably more than is necessary, but I am a happy female and that’s how I speak as well !

  21. Niki -  December 13, 2011 - 11:38 pm

    I always am punctuated. Bad spelling though. Show my thoughts with emotions. I use ‘…’ and for a teenager, I can’t understand the way everyone types, it’s very annoying >.< I can't be formal and always start with 'Hi,' hmmmm, what else :/ oh and I can use '???' '!!!' '?!?!?!' so yeah…

  22. thatone -  December 13, 2011 - 6:39 pm

    i like those ppl who are creative enough to make up new smiley faces like dr evil with nose

  23. King Viz -  December 13, 2011 - 4:06 am

    Emails are giving certain people the chance to worsen and consolidate their illiteracy. Then those people go on forums like this one to brag about how they are helping to destroy the language.

    For example, the fad – and it is a fad – to keep everything in lower case comes from the internet and address bars not being case-sensitive. Because of this, during the rise of the Worldwide Web, many companies chose to quote their addresses in lower case to make sure people didn’t mistakenly think that the comapny’s URL required the entry of caps.

    Businesses cottoned onto this during the nineties and used it for their marketing, the result being that a plethora of businesses now use a logo that is always written in small, including a kebab shop I drove past recently.

    The thing is, the internet is maturing and its features are improving all the time, so I think we will see a return to capitalisation soon.

    Do folks adapt their email style according current fads? Is no-one willing to infuse their writing with THEIR OWN personality any more instead of a generic form, dictated by foolish trends, which is devoid of all charisma? Surely this undermines human character and reduces online writers to faceless avatars of their former selves, as well as blasting open the floodgates to a plague of ignorance that already threatens to engulf both the online and offline world.

    The only thing that denotes a good writer is their mastery of the language, not their ability to destroy it.

    What’s next? No capitals, no punctuation… why don’t we start leaving out all the vowels as well? Ancient Hebrew actually does omit the vowels, but I’m not sure if they had emails when the Torah was being written.

    Equally, punctuation marks are not like Christmas decorations, and adding loads of frippery to your online communications only makes you look pretentious, foolish, immature, illiterate, or a combination of all four.

    I think the only acceptable, or forgivable mistakes are the genuine ones. Making them on purpose is just disingenuousness by those sheep-like people who fear that the rest of the herd will not accept them if they show too much ability or intelligence. This is the real problem and if it’s not tackled, we’ll all be grunting like prehistoric pigs within about ten years.

  24. Doug -  December 12, 2011 - 9:31 pm

    Keely, H, AJ,

    Yes, ‘to whom’ is correct. As Keely points out, you don’t need to use ‘to’ twice.

    But you’ve left a piece out.

    Just as I can’t say “it depends the weather,” so can I not say “it depends to whom I’m writing.” ‘Depends’ in this sense needs ‘on’: “[something] depends on [something else].”

    “It depends on to whom I’m writing,” or, less stiffly, “it depends on whom I’m writing to.”

    Barry Jacobs got it right, many others here wrote something like “it depends on who I’m writing to,” which lacks the staid formality of “…on whom I’m writing to,” but isn’t strictly grammatically correct. My own suspicion is that ‘whom,’ like ‘to lie [down],’ is on its way out.

    Now Keely, m’dear, yes, the punctuation *usually* goes inside the quotes…but not always. (Did that ellipsis look indecisive? Not to me.)

    How about:
    Do you think it’s grammatical to say “I’m going to the zoo”?

    How about:
    In her email, she wrote “its good that there going”. In this case I’m trying to tell you that her sentence didn’t end with a period, although mine does.

    In general,
    - periods and commas go inside the quotes, except in unusual circumstances. (This is American usage — British treats periods and commas the same as question marks, see below.)
    - question marks and exclamation points go inside the quotes when they’re part of the actual quote, outside if they’re part of the sentence containing the quote.
    - semicolons, colons go outside the quotes.

    If you type “punctuation inside quotes” into Google, you’ll find plenty of sites quoting these rules.

  25. lawlcaeks -  December 12, 2011 - 5:48 pm

    when i write emails, they usuall have all lowercase and no puctuation save commas and periods. i dont really pay attention to spelling either D8

    But when I write formal emails, I add punctuation and proper grammar techniques, and use more sophisticated words.

    also when i comment i jus write crap XDDDDDD
    sadhasghjasgfjgasjfasjhasfgjkask is usually at the end of them

  26. ~ -  December 12, 2011 - 4:41 pm

    what’s your favorite letter?
    mine is the squiggly!

    jk, its AMPERSAND!!!


  27. Mindy -  October 21, 2011 - 7:16 pm

    In a professional environment (like a business office) I believe that professionalism, grammar and e-mail etiquette are incredibly important. When emailing any superior or personally-unknown individual I am always formal. The worst thing is that I am really be conscientious about how I write an email and the way the receiver would perceive it, so I tend to spend a long time on the first email I send them, always beginning with their title and name, and ending the email with “v/r” and my signature. I’m usually disappointed when their replies are very informal, without header or signature, and often times poorly written. But at least I know then that the formality isn’t needed with that particular individual, and usually don’t bother with the structure of the email afterwards.

  28. SAURABH -  September 5, 2011 - 10:41 pm

    I think it is essential that one takes care and put some effort when writing an e-mail or for that matter in any written communication. Ofcourse, the audience is perhaps the most important criteria when deciding the tone, style and language but it is always a good idea to read atleast twice before you press the send button.

  29. Lora -  September 5, 2011 - 10:06 am

    When I first learned about emoticons I thought they were so cool! :D What a neat way to show your feelings when you can only use text. That way, people are less likely to misread your message and become unintentionally offended, because you didn’t put something on the end of your sentence to show you were just kidding. :P But it seems many other people just find them annoying. ): And complain about having to turn their head sideways to read them. :S So I’m trying not to use them as often when I go on message boards and stuff. :/ And yes, I am using all these emoticons as a joke. XD

  30. JackieSparrow -  August 17, 2011 - 3:12 am

    It all depends on how well I know them. With my teachers and contacts I don’t know that well, I use all correct punctuation and grammar. With my best friends, I don’t usually write i’s with a capital I, or dont with a ‘, etc.

    I use emoticons, but again, it all depends on who I write to.
    It annoys me incredibly when people use bad grammar and spelling in writing LETTERS, I’m always mentally correcting it.

    Great article… and btw, I can tell, by their writing style, which one of my friends has written an email! :}

  31. Sage -  August 11, 2011 - 1:36 pm

    When typing e-mails, I usually start out with a brief salutation and then just type away like I would type a letter. I capitalize, punctuate, create paragraphs and use spell check. I learned to type very well in 7th grade, about 50 years ago, and my fingers just naturally do the right thing. However, when it comes to texting, anything goes, as long as it makes sense.

  32. Alyx -  August 11, 2011 - 10:28 am

    This is so interesting! I know for me it totally depends on who I am emailing. If it’s a professor or someone I don’t know very well, for example, I am very formal. I never use excessive punctuation, and always make sure to state my purpose and who I am. I keep it short, simple, and to the point. If it’s a close friend, however, I tend to use two exclamation points when I’m excited, and the ellipses are probably overused as well. I have never been one for smiley faces and emoticons, though.

  33. Rita -  August 4, 2011 - 4:44 pm

    Superb! Fabulous! I just love and admire Carlitos and Archon witty banter! I agree with Lefty it just makes my day to check this blog daily!

  34. Rita -  August 4, 2011 - 12:24 pm

    Fabulous! Just Fabulous! I love reading all this witty banter! Carlitos and Archon you should have your own blogs I would definitely check them out!

  35. Lefty -  August 4, 2011 - 12:15 pm

    WOW! I would love to thank Carlitos and Archon for making my time at work less boring! I look forward to reading the informative blogs every day! No one is a loser! Everyone is a Winner in their own minds!

  36. best student credit cards -  August 3, 2011 - 10:12 pm

    this is truely a hot word :)

  37. Carlitos -  August 3, 2011 - 9:35 am

    Archon, we could continue this asinine exchange indefinitely, as with each reply we both feel that we can add, or subtract, from eachothers’ knowledge and/or ignorance. You’re the one who’s obviously the best at these “slams” and corrections, with your always-evident smugness. So I’ll digress; you win! Congratulations, you’re better than everyone else on this blog. Be proud: you earned it with all the hard work, time and effort spent during your leisure hours, as you’ve stated that you don’t spend your work hours wasting time here. I hope you’ve had a good weekend wasting your own time with a nobody like me who doesn’t have to waste their own time with a nobody like you. Now get back to work and do something productive for once.

    And great job! Huzzah! Keep up the good work!

  38. Archon -  August 3, 2011 - 1:21 am

    @ Carlitos

    I couldn’t care less (for all those who claim they COULD care less) whether you get your work done. That’s your boss’s concern. What you two consenting adults do is none of my business. I did appreciate the “damned” fine job. At least you understand the difference between a verb and an adjective. The linguistic sheep and goats don’t.

    Speaking of bunching panties, what did hill-billies ever do to twist yours? When you live in areas of the country where there’s no industry, and the only thing you can raise from the soil, is a dust cloud, you spend more time working to pay rent and put food on the table than getting an education. Not everybody has a cushy job where they can sit around, doing little more than playing with a computer.

    Just because someone uses a type of speech (writing) that a group that you don’t like or respect uses, doesn’t mean that they’re the same as that group. Different forms of the same word and multiple words with nuances of meaning for the same concept are available for use by people with broader minds. Yet another post, and you’re still proving that you don’t see the details. Halfblood is a working-class German who emigrated to England. He is German by birth and now British by residency. He is not English, and therefore neither pretentious nor a snob. Weren’t you paying attention, or were you just too busy already composing your next erudite-sounding slam? Just because he speaks English, as a second language no less, as well or better than you, is no reason to trash him. It’s not just hill-billies that you hate, you’ve got a real hard-on for the English.

    Base word; smell Accepable alternative past tense; smelt
    Base word; smelt past tense; smelted
    (different from above) (different from above)

    It doesn’t SEEM that difficult to figure out.

    You remind me of the story about the hill-billie (His name was Kleinstube, by the way. No stupid Englishmen is this joke.) who was so dumb that, he’d figured out the difference between wet and dry, but thought it was a very fine distinction. Instead of flaming people on the discussion thread, I suggested above that you look up more words in the Dictionary section. You have a good beginning, but you need to open your mind, broaden your outlook, deepen your vocabulary…Oh, and maybe take a cold shower to cool off your all-too-often hot head. Keep at it, you’ll learn.

  39. Leif Harmsen -  August 2, 2011 - 4:05 pm

    Third person = pretentious
    Bad grammar = apathetic
    Bad spelling = uneducated
    Emoticons = inarticulate
    Too much punctuation = drama queen
    Facebook = stupid and/or naive
    Twitter = rubbish
    Instant messaging = disorganized
    Third party domain (hotmail/gmail/aol/sympatico, etc.) = naive, untrustworthy
    Own domain (eg. harmsen.net for me) = confident, trustworthy, organized, savvy
    Picture = 1000 words

  40. Carlitos -  August 2, 2011 - 1:16 pm


    I can assure you that I get my work done, and I do a damned fine job, too. So (whoops, there it is) don’t bunch your panties over it. My boss doesn’t. :)

    As far as the regionality/nationality/language, I stand corrected, and I thank you. I did see halfbloodprince’s use of the word learnt; it made me chuckle. It looks and sounds like the hillbilly-speak (is that hyphen okay?) of America’s Appalachian region, regardless of whether or not it was used by some pretentious English snob. What I’m still uncertain of is: why the unnecessary complication of having two past tenses, “t” and “ed” when “ed” is universally applicable and “t” is not, and often requires the modification of the base word?

    For instance: smell. To have smelled is the only appropriate form, as to have smelt or smelted suggests that one smelted metal alloys with their nose or olfactory faculty. This is, of course, not applicable to the French, whose noses have been known to accomplish remarkable feats.

  41. Kyauphie -  August 2, 2011 - 12:26 pm

    Despite his work, E. E. Cummings preferred his name to be capitalized.

  42. David Anderson -  August 2, 2011 - 1:29 am

    D_rock, I try never to split an infinitive, in preference to never splitting an infinitive!

  43. Archon -  August 1, 2011 - 10:55 pm

    @ Carlitos

    You post this stuff during a work day? Your boss must be thrilled. I’m too busy getting my projects finished during the time I’m paid to get my projects finished. Since you have all that remunerated spare time, you should castigate halfbloodprince, he’s German-British, and he just spelt the word learnt, instead of learned.

    Now, about the site and the language, please pay attention. The site is American. The language that the articles are published in, is American English, a collection of regional dialects, none of which any too closely match what the British identify as “The Queen’s English”. Terms like Mexican-American, or Chinese-Canadian, or German-British, with the dash separating the two words, are used only to designate people who have left one country to go live in another. Since neither the site, nor the language used, is an immigrant , they can’t be American-English!

  44. Kman547 -  August 1, 2011 - 10:14 pm

    …That last “so” should be “or”. :-/

  45. Kman547 -  August 1, 2011 - 10:13 pm

    Although I strive for conventional–er–conventions in internet correspondence (emails, forums, chat, etc.), I’m more experimental with my English than I would be in a college paper. I tend to use punctuation to denote verbal ‘flow’–different lengths in pausing or changes in intonation; I write as I would speak.

    I also have found that not everyone *gets* proper emphases in text, which is where the CREATIVE part comes in. Capitalizing a single word stresses it as *the* primary thought in the sentence. Asterisks take the place of italics (when not available) for the same intonation. Alternately, they represent an action, depending on context. I’m also fond of emoticons, especially when employing dry or subtle humor, so simply changing the tone of a sentence! ;-)

  46. Lilly -  August 1, 2011 - 8:02 pm

    Whenever I am texting or emailing, I use correct grammar (or at least try). When I text my friends, I usually don’t go out of my way to be grammatically correct. If I am emailing an adult, parent, or teacher, I always go over what I’ve written at least three times to make sure my message does not have flaws. That is a lot of work for a fifteen-year-old!

  47. halfbloodprince -  August 1, 2011 - 7:54 pm

    As a German and a Briton I would say I use exclusively, more punctuation and emoticons.
    I feel it also shows that I have a sense of humour when I use the emoticons.
    I write what I think and have learnt many ways of using punctuation correctly and spell check. I feel that in many ways it should be required by all people to learn how to use dictionaries and learn about e-mail netiquette and what not.
    I personally try to use proper spelling and grammar whenever possible.

  48. Slobovich -  August 1, 2011 - 7:15 pm

    My boss recently told me my emails are to blunt and cold, so I now soften them with humor..either Hey or yo or hola, whats up..he hasnt complained..LOL

  49. joe sobel -  August 1, 2011 - 3:26 pm

    i always find myself reading the emails i’ve written after i’ve sent them. it’s like i have complete confidence that my note/email conveys what i really meant at that time. only after i send the email do i figure out that my prior intentions don’t show through, but hey, i can’t blame myself because of the availability and time one has when proof checking an online note. maybe i should, but when i talk to people face to face it’s the same way, so what the hell.

    intention and effect is always the issue, is it not?

    okay, so to the do’s and don’t's: im always apprehensive about ‘laughing’ online such as ‘hahahaha’ or ‘lol.’ if my decision is to type it out, then i merely want to tell the recipient that i am laughing, or rather, was laughing, and this recognition is, to me, totally tautological. If i decide not to ‘laugh’ then my non-response would be ostensibly apathetic.

    i think everyone needs a little bit of apathy and passion for the hermeneutics of digital text sending and receiving. I correlate, in a way, facebook. some take it seriously, some not, but the way you ‘come off’ is how people define you online. i think the ability to do this is a blessing and a curse.

  50. RHK -  August 1, 2011 - 2:19 pm

    Emoticons confuse me because they don’t connote anything specific, so I assume the person using them is vaguely shallow or misleading. They cheapen the communication and, unless the recipient and sender are intimate friends, add distance not empathy. Same goes for extra exclamation marks. All caps are just silly; they’re like shouting at someone.

    Anyone who thinks emails are a fad has never worked in corporate America. An email is a binding contract and can put you in jail. Be very careful what you say in an email and how you say it.

  51. Jiv -  August 1, 2011 - 1:18 pm


    It’s eight per cent not 8 percent. Per cent is two words, and numbers less than twenty are always written in words.
    On the the other hand, if it was 42% it’s fine to write it that way, or 42 per cent is also ok. “Forty-two per cent” is how you have to write it if it starts a sentence, like it does here, because you can’t give it a capital letter if you write it numerically.

  52. Carlitos -  August 1, 2011 - 1:01 pm

    @Archon, Ezekiel Rage, Myself, et. al.-

    We’re all so very, very wrong on so many, many counts. But (Oops, I did it again!) thanks anyway to all of us for adding a little excitement to my otherwise boring work day.

    Isn’t this site American-English? To my knowledge, there is no such language as American. I know it’s not [proper] English, and I would know; I’ve just come from your mum’s house.

  53. Cat B. -  August 1, 2011 - 10:52 am

    Er, “gets me every time!” (Yikes!!!)

  54. Cat B. -  August 1, 2011 - 10:51 am

    My florid email style (repleat with emoticons and excessive punctuation) evolved mainly from my early use of texting to my deaf friends. It was simply an outshoot of my ‘style’ of signing. The more ‘expressive’ one is, the more readily one’s signing is understood. It’s known as “total communitication” in ASL and I think many of us instinctually carry this over into our emails. (Side note: Do Italians use more emoticons and exclaimation points than, say, Germans, in their emails?!?)

    Also, I will admit to being a repeat elipses offender…but I am a stickler for their correct use…. ;->

    (BTW, as a technical writer by day, my *personal* emails tend to be stream-of-conscious runs of whatever grammar and/or punctuation occur to me in the moment. It feels SOOOO good to just let my fingers fly after a day of writing strictly ‘by the book’ — kinda like taking of the hose and heels and running barefoot thru the grass!!!! Ahhhhhhh!)

    Lastly, I HATE HATE HATE that the convention is to write “8 percent,” instead of merely “8%.” WHY write out “percent” when the “8″ is numerical!?!? (Also, where’d the ‘b’ go in numerical – get’s me every time!)

    Thanks for listening, er, reading!

  55. Cat B. -  August 1, 2011 - 10:26 am

    I used to write all my emails with standard “letter writing” conventions. But, I now often use my iPad to answer email. Because of the (horrible!) limitations of the on-screen touch-keys used to type on an iPad, I find myself using more and more abbreviations, improper cases (i.e., lowercase), etc. I’ve never been a texter, but can now see how the “drift” can happen. But, am ambivalent about grammatical evolution – why should our language be “locked” into a single acceptable form now? It wasn’t for centuries. I, for one, do NOT mourn the loss of the “Oxford comma.” (Hate it!) :-)

    P.S. Why the HECK is there only one E in judgment?!?!?
    (And, yes, I am a female and over age 40 – why do you ask?!? LOL!)

  56. Builder -  August 1, 2011 - 8:54 am

    “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

  57. Rasberry -  August 1, 2011 - 8:52 am

    It’s the internet not English class. Somtimes typing can sound a little too formal. Where as when we are speaking , others can judge how we feel by the tone of our voice and our body language. So to convey our emotions we use the extra punctuation and emoticons. For example, a friend tells you she’s passed a test she’s failed over and over. Which sounds more supportive? “That’s awesome!” or “THATS AWESOME!!!!!!!! :D :D SOOOOOOO HAPPY 4 U” haha. It’s a no brainer… It also depends on who you’re writting to. If you’re writting a boss well then of course you should be more formal. I’ve been gifted with the talent to switch it up with ease….

  58. Pat -  August 1, 2011 - 6:39 am

    Anne, what’s cunniform writing?

  59. Fred -  August 1, 2011 - 4:18 am

    An email is still “mail”. If what i have to send is more than a few sentences, I write it as a letter in word processing first where I can more easily spell check, re- read and rewrite it. That way it is treated like any serious writing. When I’m satisfied with it, I edit, copy and paste it into the email form and send it.

  60. someone -  August 1, 2011 - 2:58 am

    i always mak my words short by makin dem sort of lik what i just wrot doesnt mean im not educated i got in a realy good scol and i usualy use exclamation marks but i am not fenemin

  61. Janine :) -  August 1, 2011 - 2:43 am

    I usually start it with: Heyy _____,

    Blah Blah email nonsense…

    Janine :)

  62. Archon -  August 1, 2011 - 1:24 am

    @ Ezekiel Rage
    & Carlitos, come along for the ride.

    If you guys are finished patting yourselves and each other on the back, in Ezekiel’s little “Paragraph 5 & Paragraph 9″ snit, the “Errors” he points out are not actually errors. I don’t know why he insists that the semi-colon must separate two “complete sentences.” That’s not what the Hotword from the end of June stated. That’s probably why none of his learned colleagues bothered to mention these mistakes that aren’t mistakes.

    I don’t know whether the concept of “words or phrases understood for the sake of clarity” is taught anymore. In the middle of the one sentence, the words (you[can, may, should]) should be mentally inserted before “find out here”, to finish the thought with clarity. The semi-colon properly separates the two complex clauses. What precedes the semi-colon is obviously not a complete sentence, ergo, the use of the semi-colon. It illuminates that there are two equal constructions, but separates them because, while they are strongly related, they contain vastly different information. A comma just wouldn’t do it.

    The professionals who run this site have neither the time nor energy to answer any posts, especially ones with spurious claims. Dedicated amateurs, on the other hand, always have the time and inclination to reply to ego-driven poseurs. Oh, I just said something stupid, really obviously, but nobody pick on me, OK? Ezekiel, see my post to Carlitos, above. Compound words do not mean the same thing as the two words separately. “Anyway”, you meant to say that you did not, in any way…

  63. noopy -  August 1, 2011 - 1:07 am

    I remember reading somewhere that writing email with spelling errors is like speaking with spinach between your front teeth – they listen but it’s hard to focus…

  64. Matthew N -  August 1, 2011 - 12:08 am

    My emails are always “written” as formal as possible. I can’t stand those who send emails like “hi ___ wondering if i can c u 2mrrw” [example] with a ton of spelling mistakes, grammatically incorrect sentences, improper punctuation just… all over the place. Everytime my mother goes to send an email, I ask to type it for her.

    It generally goes like this:

    Hello ____;


    Thank You,

    [name of sender]


  65. Tommy T -  July 31, 2011 - 11:54 pm

    I have male friends from Spain and France who overuse exclamation and question marks. Although it is very effeminate to do so in American culture (we are the country that gave the world American football, after all, while they play soccer and roll around on the floor hoping to get a red card) they do not see as being effeminate. They actually see it as being modern or hip. I believe this may be because this sort of internet talk and facebook messaging is relatively new to them so they think they have to write like that. We’ve been using AOL since we were 10 years old, so we see that sort of writing as being childish and effeminate.

  66. Archon -  July 31, 2011 - 10:32 pm

    @ Carlitos

    He who takes offence, where none is offered, is a fool.

    Clam yourself, compadre. I wasn’t criticizing the site. I was merely pointing out, to a narrow minded Canadian I suspect, that, as Aysynn, above, points out, there are different but equally valid regional styles of usage. I was just explaining that, it is what is is, not what he, unjustifiedly, expected it to be. I don’t dislike my dog for being a cat, but I am aware that I will never be able to train him to fetch the paper.

    This may be an American site, or an American English site, but, unless the staff are immigrant Limeys, this is NOT an American-English site.

    Please don’t begin sentences with “so” or “and.” If the thought continues, simply insert a comma. By the way, I didn’t use the word “spellt.” If I had, I would have spelled it “spelt” and, like judgment and judgement, I would have been perfectly justified in a regional alternative usage. Look up the meanings of a few more words. Your Oscar-worthy over-reaction to “spelt” greatly resembles the semi-literate Canadian’s tantrum over “judgment.”

    Since the English got there “the fustest with the mostest” in most sections of the country, except for places like LA, where the wetbacks keep leaking in, English names will be the most common. More German in Pennsylvania, more Nordic in Wisconsin, more French in Louisiana (Canada sent you those), other than that, English redneck counts equal English New Yorkers or English Michiganders.

    When you accuse the British of stealing these lands from the natives, did you mean natives with names like Carlitos? If hillbillies are left over, they are left over. A leftover is a mistake in spelling that goes into the fridge after supper. Even when you’re denigrating them, you should capitalize Brits. By “dirt-mongering”, did you mean honest, hard-working, hard-scrabble farmers. Mongering means, dealing in, as buying and selling. You can buy and sell land, but, unless you are a greenhouse or plant nursery selling potting soil, almost nobody mongers dirt.

  67. gerry -  July 31, 2011 - 9:53 pm

    me? I also used to have greetings then all lower case characters except those words which has to be in CAPS then at the end is a lot of dot dot…

  68. Afid Em Jones -  July 31, 2011 - 7:57 pm


    Respecktivlee Afid ps….. nuthen fer get it

  69. yoen -  July 31, 2011 - 7:27 pm

    I do it the vanilla way.

  70. Anne Younger -  July 31, 2011 - 2:42 pm

    I see lots of great comments here, and I’m sure someone covered this already, but I wanted to include my take on email.
    As a communicologist, I want to point out that many of you missed a point in the article. Email seems like a new thing, but it is simply a new form of a very old technology, which started with the original cunniform writing.
    To be effective, any kind of communication should be as clear as possible. You wouldn’t write in English to someone who doesn’t speak the language if you wanted to be understood. So don’t use emoticons and all caps to someone who doesn’t use tehm. Especially if you want to communicate that you are serious.
    Someone in the above comments said that emails are informal by their nature. To send a serious communication, write a letter, not an email. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. In the current business world, email and text messages are how many business people share information, update co-workers, and document interactions. Keep in mind that email lasts forever. A letter can be destroyed, but emails last somewhere for far longer.
    So put your best forward. Use good manners, your best grammar, perfect spelling. Begin with a salutation, end with a signature.
    With spell check on every computer and even on smartphones, there is no excuse for misspelled words. All caps and excessive punctuation is like listening to someone who is yelling, and jumping around. (ADHD on paper.)
    It is possible to convey tone, humor, anger, warmth, or coolness with words alone. If you don’t believe me, read any letter by any poet, author, or politician of the past 1000 years. They didn’t have emoticons or spell check and they did just fine.

  71. Lauren -  July 31, 2011 - 2:38 pm

    First, I thought the article would have more information about email personalities. The bit about females using exessive exclamation points was a no brainer…anyone could figure that out. Wished the article had more substance.

    as for my writing style in email and texting…

    You may have noticed that I like to, and tend to use a lot of ellipsis. You know, ellipsis are those “…” (three dots formally used to show part of the sentence was omitted) However, when i use them, I like to use them as a way to break up my thoughts, or use it as an intro to an after-thought or question to what i just wrote.

    for example I might say:

    I saw a girl today wearing the same top that I had on… isn’t that weird??

    something like that. I also use it as a form of punctuation to seperate completely different thoughts (as i previously said)


    ok, pick me up at 6ish…do i need any money for lunch?

    lastly, I like to use BOLD font to emphasize something… I don’t like over doing it though. or also bold comes handy when i make headers in an email to seperate different topics. If i was discussing my lacrosse work out schedule in one section and my final exams in another, i might seperate it with bold headings labeled LACROSSE and FINAL EXAMS.

    get my idea??

  72. Carlitos -  July 31, 2011 - 2:36 pm

    @Carlitos on July 31, 2011 at 6:46 am

    -The last sentence of your response to Archon, “You’ll find that among hillbillies and “rednecks”, British names are more popular than the general population of this country,” is not very clear. It should read “You’ll find that among hillbillies and “rednecks”, British names are more popular than within the general population of this country.”

    Thanks for listening to yourself.

  73. Carlitos -  July 31, 2011 - 2:22 pm

    @Helen on July 30, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    -You rock with your badass 13 years of intelligence.

  74. Carlitos -  July 31, 2011 - 2:16 pm

    @Ezekiel Rage on July 29, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    “(4) Why have I bothered to append these notes? I have observed from past articles that those who attempt to point out the grammatical errors in the articles (not the comments!) quickly become objects of disdain – I believe my friend Carlitos would agree. I therefore hope that I shall not receive that “honour.” ”

    …Ezekiel, nice post, I love it. VERY diplomatic. But am I an object of disdain? Or the subject to which it is expressed?

  75. Aysynn -  July 31, 2011 - 11:10 am

    I make plenty of judgements based on how people spell and punctuate. A lot of it has to do with their verbal intelligence, and the way they view themselves in relation to other people. If their punctuation and spelling are terrible, either 1. They’re not verbally intelligent, or 2.They think they can present themselves however they want, and that it doesn’t matter.

    I’ve spent some time on a dating site, and find that guys often email me with a “hey how u doin ur cute”. That might be a fine amount of punctuation to use when texting a friend, but not when trying to make a good impression! Why should I waste my time talking to someone who doesn’t put any effort into the way he presents himself?

    The rules of the English language weren’t created by some hoity-toity group of people to give elementary school students a hard time: they were formed with common usage by English speakers themselves. (That’s why there are two ways to spell judg[e]ment–it differs regionally). If you don’t bother to pay attention to our language structure, you will be incapable of expressing yourself to other English speakers in the way you probably want to. This is not the fault of the English language, nor the oppression of language perfectionists. It’s just a fact of life that you’re losing out on. And, given the above comments, I think most people are blind to how poorly they come across in print.

  76. Rosa -  July 31, 2011 - 9:38 am

    Like other people have mentioned, it all depends on the recipient of your email. If you’re writing to a close friend, you probably wouldn’t start out with “Dear Jim,” and end with “Sincerely, John.”

    When writing to a friend, I simply start with “Hello,” and a double-width space between it and the first paragraph. I do write in paragraph form, though, regardless of who I’m emailing, and I’d like to believe I always use correct spelling and punctuation. It isn’t really a conscious “I must write correctly!”-type of thing; it’s just the way I write.

    Unfortunately, I’m a victim of too many periods. At the end of my very last sentence, I add an extra period. Not three like an ellipsis, just a total of two. It just feels like one is so final. It makes me feel like people reading my email will think I’m angry with them.

    Of course, when writing a formal email, I ditch the double period and end with a “Thank You,” as opposed to simply my name followed by a smiley face (again, to further assure my audience that I’m not angry with them)..

  77. Amanda -  July 31, 2011 - 9:21 am

    I tend to keep my emails informal because I try not to email people I don’t know, still being underage and such.

    However, it’s aggravating when people TYPE LIEK DISS !!!1! Or end every sentence like this… Trailing off indicates indecisiveness, worry, sadness, or shyness. It also makes them sound depressed, like they don’t want to talk.

    As for shorthand and emoticons, they’re perfectly fine in small doses, but not in formal writing and certainly not when they’re used in place of every other word. I generally use proper grammar, capitalization, and spelling when I talk to anyone, even friends, but when I’m feeling lazy, I don’t. Simple as that.

    I don’t think it has all that much to do with personality than, rather, the comfort level between the recipient and writer, and the writer’s mood at the time. Also, the content. Just chatting over something trivial doesn’t require complete formality and proper writing. But that’s just me.

    ~Amanda c:

  78. E. Michael Pearl -  July 31, 2011 - 8:32 am

    Hi Y’all,
    As a 65 year old, I find all this very interestin’ and as you can tell I have my own patwah [patois- I had to look that up, after reading it in anothers comment]. I watched a lot of “The Lone Ranger & Hopalong Cassidy” when I was a kid. I started riding horses at 54, a lifelong dream. Better late than never.So now I’ve adopted some of the vernacular I like.
    I write cowboy style poetry [rhymes, but meter askew] and consider punctuation very important to get a meaning across. And I “never go past a word I don’t know” [from Scientology] as I want to get the meaning that was conveyed from the sentence, but who knows what, in life, has colored that persons [the reader] understanding of that particular word or the person who decided what it would mean. Do we all agree? RIGHT!
    Oh, I abhor the texting abreviations simply because they’re like a foreign language to me, I can’t understand, unless I go look them up. An extra hastle, as life is short and I only have half left now.
    So… I don’t know if I’m punctuating right or not but I try. Don’t want no one to think I’m ignorant or nothin’. But isn’t everyone in some aspect. If you don’t think that’s right, you’re ignorant.
    I believe everyone has their own understandin’ of every word out there and if ya don’t like it it’s your problem. You can think about’em [that person] any way ya want. I like people to correct me [I can take it – I'm a cowboy now] on my punctuation, so go ahead.
    Many times I use shortcuts typin’, as I’m missin a couple’a typin’ fingers, [my excuse] O.K.? [For those who;d like to know which, it's the L and ; ones.] With my eyesight deteriorating [my excuse] it’s easier to find [ ] on the keyboard rather than use 2 hands for the ( ) , O.K.?
    So all you twitterpated [my friends favorite word] people out d’ere change the language all U want. I could care less, ’cause there are more important things in life. [C “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”]
    So I’ll be on my way, I still got some fingers left and alot of stuff I want to do.
    Adios, E.Michael – [MP] – exmuleman

  79. Jutti -  July 31, 2011 - 8:25 am

    My email style depends on the recipient. If I am writing to a friend I tend to be more casual. I use standard punctuation and spelling. I feel it is being considerate to make my writing easy to read.

    When writing an email I keep my paragrahs short. Reading off a computer screen is not the same as reading print. It is better to keep your paragraph short as it makes it easier for your reader to follow what you have written.

    If the email is for business I make an extra effort to make sure everything is 100 percent correct. Sometimes I will save my email as a draft and go back and reread it later, a good way to catch mistakes.

    If I am angry or upset I save the email in my “drafts” folder and wait a day or two before sending it. It usually ends up getting discarded. If I do decide to send it then I find myself revising it to change the tone of the email.

  80. KatyDaly -  July 31, 2011 - 8:11 am

    I have used email for both formal and informal purposes, and my writing style is definitely different for both. Informal emails of mine often contain multiple !!! or ???, or even… I do this because I find it very difficult to express emotion without the use of emoticons, and I find most of them very silly. Instead of smiley faces, I often type “hehehe”. Instead of sad faces “waaaaaah!”

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with developing your own personal style in an informal email, and I do not fault any of my friends for doing things differently. The one thing I have no patience for whatsoever though, is bad spelling!!! Don’t they teach this in school anymore???

  81. Carlitos -  July 31, 2011 - 6:46 am

    I feel that Email is now indispensable to business. Anyone in an advanced industry or science will affirm this. That being said, we all know there is a wide range of writing styles in regards to professional vs. personal. I would urge anyone who cares about this to actually study some technical writing, and forego your Email habits as they all seem to lessen the effectiveness of your writing. Almost everyone here seems to be proud of their various habits when Emailing, but at the same time are exemplifying the very same types of issues they have the proverbial beef with.

    Now, on to the good stuff:

    @Archon on July 29, 2011 at 12:55 am

    You’re right- this is an American-English website. So to criticize it for being what it is is like disliking your dog for not being like a cat. Speaking of hillbillies, to have “spellt” instead of “spelled” is speaking precisely the way a hillbilly does. And they write that way as well. In fact, I’d say that the hillbillies in the US are mostly leftover from the uneducated, dirt-mongering brits who first showed up here and stole these lands from the natives. You’ll find that among hillbillies and “rednecks”, British names are more popular than the general population of this country.

    @Kyla on July 29, 2011 at 8:03 am:

    You seem to be more like your friends than you think.

  82. Mary Barry -  July 31, 2011 - 6:41 am

    and always remember the proper use of ” their” “there” and “they’re” as well as “your” and “you’re”……using them in the wrong context is a turn off for me.

  83. heidi -  July 31, 2011 - 6:37 am

    no surprise to me that those of us who read Dictionary.com love grammar.
    however, i use email in a much more relaxed way–casual connects with family and friends,who, G forbid, do not judge me based on any typos.

    seriously, I studied several languages, write nonsense poetry for children, play with words, make them up, but boy, do I ever take them seriously! in the most playful way possible.

    and if i do want to be formal, i write a hand-written letter. people love to get snail-mail, and it is what truly speaks volumes. i think so, anyway.

    as an art teacher, I am much concerend with personal expression–my own and that of my students; there are battles to choose. and ones to let rest. why not try to “get it?” the whatever it is they are trying to communicate–

    it would be sad to put too much judgmental, even hostile energy into something that can just be a quick reflexive, versus reflective, act.

    oh, and, btw, i “developped’ dyslexic habits. unintentionally, really. but sometimes, these habits have given me the funniest twists to words and phrases! (like writing i sit and know… instead of knit and sew :0)

    just be happy to be still communicating with others, i say!

    i enjoyed reading all of what each of you shared. thank you!

  84. Gregg -  July 31, 2011 - 6:20 am

    They neglected to study (or at least report) on the readers mood/attitude. If you read while angry you will perceive the message as angry even if not sent that way, etc

  85. Greg -  July 31, 2011 - 6:02 am

    My email messages are composed for readability and understandability. But many people very obviously read only the first sentence/paragraph. It can be aggravating and a waste of time, notably mine.

  86. tan -  July 31, 2011 - 5:58 am

    All of those who leave comments here clearly wish to have their thoughts read and judged by others, and all who describe a rough plan or style in which they write follow that style. They would look unintelligent otherwise. I would like to open the rest of this forum for comments about what any who read this think this says about those who use this site. Humour me, be judgemental of everybody who comments on this site (me included), especially those who criticise others. Judge them honestly, that all who follow may be jury. (I couldnt think of a stylish finish to this, but im sure you get the point; regard it as a social experiment)(or am i just wasting my time and looking like an idiot)(im genuinely curios as to your answers, but predict that 90 percent will be insulting)(and nine percent will ignore me) (or rather 9 percent will be insulting, and i shall be ignored by the 90)

  87. Ricardo -  July 31, 2011 - 5:43 am

    Nice article.
    I have been questionned myself about this subject for some time recently.
    Since english is not my mother tongue, I always have to pay some attention to my emails written in english before to press “send”, they ussually become formal although email way of communication is not supposed to be so.
    I think that, paper/letter formal writing is to dissapear and emails are taking the place. I never indulge myself to relax on my style, vocabulary and structure because I consider even more difficult to match what you intend to mean on a short piece of writing. Particulary if this first draft ends up your last communication with the recepient. As Baltasar Gracian said ” good and brief, good twice”

  88. Valueseekinguy -  July 31, 2011 - 4:23 am

    I feel like I’m communicating with a loser when they won’t even take the time to try to “get it right”. If the writer can’t or won’t spend the time to write a properly composed email note; especially nowadays with spelling and grammar checkers, then I don’t put too much of a priority on responding.

    It’s funny how bad grammar or spelling can reflect poorly even when you know that a certain person doesn’t normally talk like that.

  89. Naji -  July 31, 2011 - 3:46 am


  90. Jessica -  July 31, 2011 - 3:19 am

    I usually try to use proper spelling and punctuation in my emails. Too many people seem borderline illiterate when they are typing. The improper use of “there/their/they’re” or “your/you’re” drives me absolutely insane. When reading a poorly written email, I often feel as though the writer is insincere.

    I don’t mind emoticons. In fact, I often find them useful. However, I do have a problem with excessive punctuation marks of any kind. If you are excited, puzzled, or indecisive, just tell me that! Be straight forward, please. I personally don’t care if I sound cute or feminine, or cold for that matter – I just want the reader to know that I am smarter than the average 10 year old.

    I agree that the content of the email is what really counts, so I try to let these things slide. I realize that I am nowhere near a perfect typist, either. But if the subject line reads something like: “Omg lyk srsly!!! u haaav 2 chek dis outtt laydeee!!!” I am deleting it instantly – for the sake of my relationship with the sender.

  91. Linda -  July 30, 2011 - 11:21 pm

    Reading the article along with the comments reassures me that many persons do take style and punctuation seriously with degrees of elasticity for the rules. I always like to imagine what primative man [or woman] would have made with our modern tools for communication.

  92. Rosie -  July 30, 2011 - 9:56 pm

    I tend to excessively use emoticons. I also tend to type in caps when I’m in chatrooms and wanting to annoy people in general. Sometimes I shorten words like “wut, r, u, evry1, y, lyk, omai, nowai, ect.” However, when I shorten words, it’s usually because I want to annoy the person I am speaking with or the person I am speaking with understands the situation and usually laughs about it. I think my normal text is legit. I do not begin normal emails with a proper greeting like,”To whom it may concern”. I usually greet the person I am speaking with and reply to their question or statement. When I end the email, I usually do not sign my name unless it is a very formal email. I just reply to their question or statement and send the email without saying goodbye. I do this because normally I would expect the receipient to reply.

    Yup. That’s pretty much it. ou o;

  93. vita -  July 30, 2011 - 7:57 pm


  94. vita -  July 30, 2011 - 7:56 pm

    i louv using emoticons when i am emailing my friends :) :P

  95. Chelsea-Brooke -  July 30, 2011 - 6:43 pm

    To be honest, I tend to use internet language especially when I am talking to a close friend of mine. But reading this article, it really opened my mind to a lot of new things. Or should I say a small picture opened a wide scene for me. I also tend to use emotion faces in my e-mails and ect..
    Interesting article..

  96. Helen -  July 30, 2011 - 6:20 pm

    l don’t know if everybody on here wiII agree with me- actually, scratch that, l KNOW everybody on here won’t agree with me- but that’s the point. Essays, Ietters, eIectronic messages- or EmaiIs, and text messages shouId aII be written in different styIes. No one wants to read an essay fiIIed with emoticons, but a text constructed Iike a Ietter feels coId and distant. ln aII written works, Facebook chat to thesis(‘s/es/ie?) papers, excIamation points irk me. l actuaIIy don’t mind capitaI Ietters where boId, itaIicized, and underIined fonts are unavaiIable, but in word documents and the Iike, capitalization is unacceptabIe. l have feIt the need to hoId down shift as l type, simpIy because it takes to much time to write swear words before, after, and in the middIe of every word l type.
    To the person who said something Iike “Quotation marks go AFTER other punctuation.” ActuaIIy, they don’t aIways. Ex.
    “And then he told you to ‘spontaneousIy combust’?”
    “Yeah, he’s such a science nerd.”
    I don’t know if that’s correct, but it conveys the message of the text better than putting the question mark inside the quotes.
    Anyway, I’m done with my IittIe rant. l could correct every mistake l saw when l was gIancing at the other comments, but that would take actuaIIy scroIIing up and matching the errors to the users, which l’m MUCH too Iazy to do.
    Guess what? lf you copy and paste this into word, you’II see that l repIaced every capitaI ‘l’ with a Iowercase “L,” and vice-versa. l’m thirteen, btw.

  97. Tyler -  July 30, 2011 - 5:54 pm

    If I’m writing to one of my professors or an employer I try to appear literate.
    if I’m writing to my gf or a bud I tend to be informal and only capitalize words that won’t make me look retarded if I don’t, and I tend to write in blocks as opposed to paragraphs.
    my online persona, Tyler, used to use !!! at the end of almost everything. it was like a trademark. but when I use ??? I have usually already asked the question in a previous post or message and failed to get a reply directly to the question I had asked, or am in a big hurry and am trying to make the point that I just want an answer. to call them feminine, IDK. I’m past the age of the texting generation even though we we’re texting brief insults back and forth in 1997, so I have picked up what habits I have from others online. it’s quite possible that I picked up many of my messaging traits from women seeing as how that is usually who I chat with online.

  98. Tallulah -  July 30, 2011 - 4:33 pm

    This is exactly what I was thinking about the other day. I’m kind of picky. Exclamation marks in general always piss me off; to me they sound like false enthusiasm. Sometimes when you’re really angry though, it’s okay.

    If I receive something which repeats words, can’t get basic grammar and spelling, it a) shows you’re illiterate b) shows you didn’t edit your work c) shows you don’t have pride in your work d) shows you don’t respect your audience and e)shows you don’t respect yourself.

    The implicit ways in which we communicate are so important – especially on the internet. Not including ;) in something can automatically mean you’re annoyed for some reason, leading to lots of confusion, when really you’re making a joke. It can be downright dangerous =P

  99. Monique Hodgkinson -  July 30, 2011 - 2:15 pm

    Not sure why my previous comment is not showing up, but in a nutshell, it is important to not get too lax with your emails. It is too easy for people to misinterpret and add tone that is not intended to be there.

  100. CoastViews Magazine -  July 30, 2011 - 2:04 pm

    When sending out business related emails, they must use proper English, capitalization, punctuation, and a positive tone. They must be on target, engaging, and well formatted. If not, then your business is not being well-represented by your email.

  101. Monique Hodgkinson -  July 30, 2011 - 2:00 pm

    I try to be friendly, personal, and professional when I send emails. Keeping that in mind, email allows people to read in tone, which may not really be there. For example:

    Think about a time when you have read an email from someone who just always rubs you the wrong way. Do you read it calmly or feel like the top of your head is about to blow off? I’ve had this happen to me, but when I go back and re-read the email a little bit later, it I usually don’t have the same reaction. Emotions and personal opinions affect how you read the email.

    On another note, sometimes people’s perceptions of politeness is different. I recently had someone I know, who tends to very rude and blunt via email, tell me how they carefully read their emails twice before sending them, so that they aren’t offending the reader. Some of this person’s emails have made my hair stand on end.

    In the end, you just have to laugh and not take it too personally. After all, people for the most part want to be liked and rarely ask themselves how they can make others upset.

  102. Harley -  July 30, 2011 - 12:59 pm


    I completely agree with you, although I myself am guilty of using ellipses in improper places.


    I think that the article is very true, and an interesting subject. When emailing someone, I personally prefer third-person. Although, while texting, I try to maintain “conversation” form, whatever that might be called. I attempt to speak like I would in a face to face conversation.

  103. Molly -  July 30, 2011 - 11:42 am

    @ s9
    Lol. My thoughts exactly.

    @ Daniel
    Change the “bitter, party of one” to “bitter, party of two.” I can’t abide it either.

  104. loves2read -  July 30, 2011 - 10:53 am

    I was once annoyed when someone sent an email to me all in caps……until one day I found myself suddenly locked into all caps after having inadvertently held the ‘Shift’ key down too long. Thought I never would be able to ‘fix’ it, but did eventually figure out how.

  105. LT -  July 30, 2011 - 10:13 am

    Strunk and White withholding
    Style and elements not for scolding
    Since the future you are molding
    Say simply what you mean to say
    So change your mind some other way.

  106. Corlyss -  July 30, 2011 - 10:11 am

    I liked the observation that email is a highly artificial means of communication. No kidding! So are texting and BBS posts.

    Don’t try irony in any of them unless you and the addressee know each other pretty well. Irony, sarcasm, and humor are hard to convey in these media.

  107. yayRay Shell :) -  July 30, 2011 - 9:47 am

    This is pretty cool. Now I want to be extra careful with my emails and typing. :p

  108. Wrasfish -  July 30, 2011 - 9:21 am

    When I see sloppy punctuation and frequent misspellings, I assume the writer is male, age twelve, with a diagnosis of ADHD. Then, I give as much weight to the message as a whining twelve-year-old child deserves.

    Written language does not convey tone, and attempts at humor can easily be misinterpreted. Hence, emoticons have value, when used sparingly.

  109. letgodoll -  July 30, 2011 - 6:54 am

    to email friends, i like to keep it simple without using caps. funny though it may sound, i do not like to capitalise letter ‘I’ as it gives me a feeling of inflated ego. i re-read/recheck my emails before sending them off for spell errors and really like to receive mails that are simple and precise. if i like a forwarded joke or an anecdote, i make an effort to delete the extra spaces, exclaimations and the “please forward to 10 more people” end notes before pressing the forward key.i keep the emoticons at bay, as far as possible.

  110. Celia -  July 30, 2011 - 6:02 am

    I usually start off an email with a happy greeting like: Yo! or S’up!!

    Not using proper puntuation and grammar bothers me.

  111. Pat -  July 30, 2011 - 3:27 am

    AJ, if you want to criticize someone’s grammar or spelling it’s pretty bad form to include a spelling error of your own!

    It’s ellipses, not elipses.

  112. Junfan Mantovani -  July 30, 2011 - 12:41 am

    You should see the emails I get frommy ex-wife.

  113. Joe -  July 30, 2011 - 12:26 am

    I just don’t want to make my message look bad or incomprehensible by ignoring places that need commas. I understand that without simplicity in a sentence, you should make sure the reader can do the math for you in reading your sentence to understand. So, whether I am good at or not, I try to be both simple, but also try to fit in something exta I’d like to add. Even if delivering a message, I’d like for one to learn as I do. I find that my willingness to teach or express myself is really my beggin that someno else does of their honest personaliy.

  114. Keeley -  July 29, 2011 - 11:34 pm

    AJ, Darling,

    EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m in love!


  115. writing nour -  July 29, 2011 - 11:17 pm

    dear readers,

    when i write e-mails, i don’t bother to do any caps except when i send an e-mail to someone formal or of higher status than me. for example:

    dear miss Rania, (in Egypt, we adress our teacher with miss and then their maiden name)
    i don’t like to waste to make emotions or smiley faces or too many exclamation points, i’m talkative and i also like to write a lot, so my e-mails are usually long.

    Nour M. Nabil

  116. Ezekiel Rage -  July 29, 2011 - 11:03 pm

    Dear Hotword,

    Paragraph 5:

    “McAndrew’s study examines the identity that can be created and thus interpreted by a person’s email style; pointing out that by understanding the types of judgments that we make and the way in which people process information from emails we can become better communicators.”

    The use of the semi-colon (;)in the afore-quoted paragraph is incorrect; it is not separating two complete sentences, particularly the one following the semi-colon. A comma (,) would have sufficed.

    Paragraph 9:
    “While the study did not include the use of emoticons, find out here how those winks and smiley faces are bringing us back to where it all began.”

    This “sentence” is incomplete and requires some brackets to separate the portion that contains the hyperlink to the blog on the use of smiley faces and emoticons:

    While the study did not include the use of emoticons, [sentence is incomplete] (find out here how those winks and smiley faces are bringing us back to where it all began.)

    To whom it may concern:
    (1) As I CLEARLY indicated above, this comment is directed to “Hotword.” If anyone should take my pointing out these errors personally, it ought to be the writer(s) of this blog – not anyone else. I would therefore appreciate it if I were not criticised or ridiculed for this action; it was made in good faith.

    (2) Due to the fact that our comments on this site are not updated in real-time, I am cognizant of the possibility that someone has already indicated these points. However, at the moment, mine is the 46th comment, and there are no other comments that have been made in this regard. I am therefore not being superfluous.

    (3) I am well aware that my all my learned colleagues above noticed these things and probably decided not to make a big fuss out of it; I am therefore not in anyway trying to appear smarter than them.

    (4) Why have I bothered to append these notes? I have observed from past articles that those who attempt to point out the grammatical errors in the articles (not the comments!) quickly become objects of disdain – I believe my friend Carlitos would agree. I therefore hope that I shall not receive that “honour.”

    It’s always a pleasure!

  117. WALNUT -  July 29, 2011 - 10:33 pm

    Dear Everybody:
    I was taught to start letters this way, in 1939. Everything has changed since then, even how a letter is folded. I presumed E-Mail would follow suite. NOW AT NEARLY 90 MOST PEOPLE CAN’T HEAR, CAN’T SEE AS WELL SO I STARTED USING CAPS EXCLUSIVELY. THEN I WAS TOLD I AM YELLING AT PEOPLE. NAY NAY, HUH UH, NOT– I AM TRYING TO BE HELPFUL.
    Will you please tell me what your opinions are? I will try to comply.

  118. get over it -  July 29, 2011 - 10:03 pm

    Well, I think there’s always time to have a little fun. Like, there’s a time to be serious when you need to be, and a time where you can just let it go and just be fun. You don’t always have to be serious. Some of you people just have your panties in a bunch or something. But for example, when I am talking to my friends, I am just nice and creative and use icons and exclamation points to show how really excited I am, or how sad I am. But when it comes to a serious formal thing, I keep to a serious formal format. (: So you know, people these days are so picky and so snooty about the way people type. (: < that right there is so horrible and informal isn't it? Its just so annoying. NO. Jeez. And the whole dot dot dot. For me, that's how i type. I type how i think and how i would say something in real life. So if i were to say something like, " Well, Ill see you later…maybe…" I would say that with that pause and dot dot dot thing. Its just annoying to me when people say stuff like, "oh i hate it when people sound happy when there txting or when typing emails." Like, get over yourselves and just loosen up a bit. K. Thanks.

  119. simona -  July 29, 2011 - 9:50 pm

    i like 2 use numbers and emoticons. and mispelled words bcuz this isnt school, this is email.

  120. Tess Stefan -  July 29, 2011 - 9:15 pm

    Usually, I just use 1 exclamation point, instead of an excessive amount. I use capitalization appropriately and punctuation correctly. Because, I think grammar is important, and you should exercise it in even the smallest ways.

  121. Stormy -  July 29, 2011 - 8:40 pm

    Also, I Always Read Over My Text Before Hitting The Send Button To Check For Grammar And Punctuation – I Use Grammar Check Only As A Last Resort When I Really Need It….People Are Becoming Too Haphazard In Their Grammar Skills.

  122. Stormy -  July 29, 2011 - 8:36 pm


    I Usually Start An Email With An Attention-Getting Word Or Greeting Like “Hello”, Or By Stating The Person’s Name.

    Also, As You Can See I Like To Capitalize The First Letter Of Just About Every Word – This Grabs Attention But Does Go So Far As To Become ANGRY.

    I Use Punctuation That Most People Forget Like – and ; Along With Emoticons If I Have Them Or Smileys.

    Thanks, Stormy

  123. Cassie -  July 29, 2011 - 8:27 pm

    I stumbled across this article while searching for a synonym for the word “attend”. I thought it was funny because I was writing an email to a man that I’ve never met before to inquire about an upcoming event. I was trying to give the impression that I’m not just a giddy teenage girl that doesn’t appreciate the art of grammar and proper word usage.
    I find it rather easy to entirely hide my own personality and let myself slip into a different person’s mind… without turning into a characterless being. I enjoy reading articles that accentuate the writer’s personality, but when the person overwhelms you with punctuation, it makes me want to punch someone in the face! Not really, but you know what I mean. My point is, people overuse punctuation way to much. It annoys me to no end!
    Personally, I like to make paragraphs in my emails with two spaces for the indent. I occasionally use an emoticon if I’m feeling especially emotional about something or want to convey a certain disposition, but rarely do I use a smiley face if I’m writing to a stranger. I feel as if it causes the person to think I’m trying too hard to seem friendly or trustworthy. But I use emoticons when I’m writing to friends very often.


    PS- Christopher Schwinger, I love you.

  124. fer -  July 29, 2011 - 7:27 pm

    Always, ALWAYS put something in the subject line! There are two people that I hear from regularly who leave the subject line blank; when I see that blank, I always know it’s from one of them.

  125. gladys de vera -  July 29, 2011 - 7:15 pm

    Thank goodness to the one who made this article!
    Yeah, i hate those who misspelled their chat or text but sometimes i find myself doing it which makes me realize that it is really not appropriate. Why misspelled it if you know the correct one. Even in using punctuation mark, etc. My uncle scold me before about this.I hope i can continue it..

  126. Barbara Edwards -  July 29, 2011 - 5:47 pm

    Roy Blunt Jr says it is not correct to write “email.” The correct word is e-mail. Just sayin’.

  127. Nitya -  July 29, 2011 - 5:14 pm

    To Keeley; it’s “to whom…….” with no final “to” at the end. You have already put the “to” in.

  128. Rita -  July 29, 2011 - 4:29 pm

    Jenny maybe it’s time to find a New Friend or Business Partner! I wish you the best of luck.

  129. peter -  July 29, 2011 - 3:31 pm

    “It took a study to come up with this penetrating analysis?”

    couldnt have said it better myself.

  130. Raj -  July 29, 2011 - 3:28 pm

    Email Ethics

  131. Michael -  July 29, 2011 - 3:22 pm

    Well, when I text or email, regardless of whom it is, I always try to write as I would write an essay. I’m probably one of the very few teenagers (15) who actually do this. I feel like doing this helps me express how I’m feeling better and helps the recipient understand me more. Although I do like to use emotions to emphasize how I feel. :)

  132. Chrissy -  July 29, 2011 - 1:47 pm

    Whenever I email someone, I usually start out with the receiver’s name first and then follow with a greeting. I try to spell and use punctuation correctly, even when writing to family, and I hate writing in “txt talk”. When I do ‘text talk’ and then have to write a paper, it’s hard to get back into the habit of writing formally. I hate the wrong usages of the words their, there, hear, here, then, than, sea, see, etc. The point is I tend to write very formal emails, but just because their formal doesn’t mean they don’t have any emotion whatsoever in them. Sometimes I like to use emoticons (it’s rare though.)

    -Chrissy (btw, I’m 14)

  133. maximonk -  July 29, 2011 - 1:08 pm

    E-mailing is such an immediate medium that content should be much more important than style, although a bit of style never goes wrong.

  134. Giselle -  July 29, 2011 - 12:38 pm

    Well when I txt my friends I usually use the emotions, and also use a lot of exclamations. When I really don’t feel like txting someone though I use “…….” over and over again until they get the point….

  135. Helen -  July 29, 2011 - 12:22 pm

    I usually make sure I don’t have any spelling or grammatical errors. When people do that to me, it seems like they don’t care about it as much–like they can’t even take the time to fix a spelling error because they don’t think either I or what we’re talking about (or both) is important enough.
    I don’t, however, address people or sign my name. That way, at least to me, seems too formal for an email, a relatively INformal way of communicating.
    I don’t know. Call my preferences writer’s OCD, but I really wish everyone would just pay attention to what they’re writing. Which includes the overusing of exclamation points and question marks. If it’s unecessary–or NECESSARY, for that matter–put forth the ridiculously small effort to fix it.

  136. Adriana -  July 29, 2011 - 10:28 am

    It depends on the person it’s sent to. If it’s someone I don’t know well/at all, I always start with a ‘Hello [insert name here]!’ and end with a ‘- my name’.
    But if I’m writing to my friend, I usually skip the etiquette and jump right into my topic.
    Personally, I always write in full sentences with every word spelled out. I try not to overuse the exclamation or question marks, especially in formal emails or messages to acquaintances. If I do overuse them, it’s only in the emails to my friends and it’s always in a joking manner. I NEVER use emoticons with anyone other than my friends.
    I try not to hold others up to my standards, but it really bothers me when people don’t use punctuation or when their grammar is so egregious their message is lost. I also subconsciously expect boys to write their emails more seriously, if not better, than girls do, and I’m doubly disappointed if a boy writes in the way I mentioned bothers me above.
    Knowing this, I probably do judge people based on their writing, but I try not to.

  137. Jenny -  July 29, 2011 - 10:21 am

    I could relate to the comment in the article regarding the use of multiple question marks ??? as expressing anger. My friend/business partner uses multiple question marks frequently in her emails to me, and I interpret their use as just another expression of her hostility. This is a different topic, but one that I can’t help addressing. Take my advice and never go into business with a friend. Ever. The things you thought you liked about your friend quickly disappear, and the little annoyance you thought you could tolerate end up driving you crazy. Like receiving all those emails with her multiple question marks. I love our business but hate having to deal with my “friend” on a constant basis.


  138. s9 -  July 29, 2011 - 10:00 am

    It took a study to come up with this penetrating analysis?

  139. Rob -  July 29, 2011 - 9:39 am

    It’s just a matter of fact that based on this info we can “fake our feellings’ when typing an email by using some clues about what we want to show, and not what we actually feel…

  140. Daniel -  July 29, 2011 - 9:20 am

    This is a good article. In my case I tend to receive nothing but emails full of typo’s, incorrect punctuation (or none at all), and just an absolute disregard for grammar whatsoever. Things like using the number 4 instead of “for” and the letter u instead of you – argh! And don’t get me started on how text messaging and the “social networks” have replaced the one-on-one, face to face human connection and everyone seems to be absolutely fine with it- ugh. Bitter, party of one.

  141. smana -  July 29, 2011 - 9:17 am

    Nice!– the article that is!
    Oh yes I do use a lot of !!!… and such.

  142. Kyla -  July 29, 2011 - 8:03 am

    All my friends use improper grammar, spelling, and punctuation; they never sign it either. I, on the other hand, use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I also sign anything with the same signature `~Kyla : )’.
    Sometimes I will add my last name to it if it is a buisiness email.
    I had been emailing this friend of mine for a while. I had never met this friend in person since I go to an online school and met the person there. They were from a foreign country and had a name that would work as either male or female. From the writing style of this friend’s emails, I assumed the friend was a girl, but I soon found out when I called them that the she was a he!
    ~Kyla : )

  143. rick102572 -  July 29, 2011 - 8:03 am

    “Well, maybe I don’t use my exclamation points as haphazardly as you do.”
    -Jake Jarmel

    “I’ve never heard of a relationship being affected by punctuation.”
    -Jerry Seinfeld

    (in “The Sniffing Accountant” episode)

  144. Kyla -  July 29, 2011 - 8:02 am

    All my friends use improper grammar, spelling, and punctuation; they never sign it either. I, on the other hand, use proper grammar. spelling, and punctuation. I also sign anything with the same signature ~Kyla : )
    Sometimes I will add my last name to it if it is a buisiness email.
    I had been emailing this friend of mine for a while. I had never met this friend in person since I go to an online school and met the person there. They were from a foreign country and had a name that would work as either male or female. From the writing style of this friend’s emails, I assumed the friend was a girl, but I soon found out when I called them that the she was a he!
    ~Kyla : )

  145. andy brown -  July 29, 2011 - 7:46 am

    further to the earlier email… my spelling is as a result of good teaching back in the 70s and 80s… if i choose to use an abbreviation in a text or an email (itself an abbreviation) that doesn’t stop me being able to spell correctly or use english properly!

  146. andy brown -  July 29, 2011 - 7:44 am

    “write a professional email” “too much punctuation”

    what a lot of nonsense!!!!!!! (anyone irritated? i DO hope so!)

    emails are a convenience and mostly, informal! if you want to write anything professionally, write a letter!

  147. TML -  July 29, 2011 - 7:13 am

    If such things intrigue you, you’ll notice at least two people who tried desperately to correctly use ‘whom,’ only to end their sentence with a preposition (ghastly!), and the same one that preceded ‘whom’ at that. Either way is fine, although some sticklers frown on ending sentences with prepositions, I believe it is perfectly acceptable since exaggerated pronouns that involve a verb (‘who i’m writing the email to’ is, I would argue, one big pronoun) are more difficult to plan for. I mean for which to plan.
    Also, emails. Pshaw. Such a fad.

  148. Barry Jacobs -  July 29, 2011 - 7:11 am

    In the email format, it is essential to be concise, as no one wants to read a dissertation.

    Clarity is essential, as is substantiation for your opinion. Spelling, grammar, punctuation and style of writing (depending on to whom you are writing) are as equally important.

  149. clarkee -  July 29, 2011 - 7:01 am

    what annoys me is when I sign my email off with the friendly abbreviation of my name – steve – and the recipient replies by addressing me as Stephen. I perceive this as excessive formality with the intention of not engaging in my invited informal communication.

  150. AJ -  July 29, 2011 - 6:30 am

    Keely, Darling,

    Per your question, you did not use “whom” correctly. When you say “it depends to whom I’m sending the message” you don’t need to add another “to” at the end (you’ve covered that in “to whom”).

    As far as elipses, using them implies you are indecisive and not authoritative in what you are saying. I recommend getting out of the habit and using commas or em-dashes instead. And please, no more emoticons unless you are chatting with your friends.

    As for incorrect usages of “theres” and “yours”–”there’s” will always have an apostrope, otherwise you must mean “theirs” (I found the irony of your statement amusing).

    And finally, end punctuation, in most cases, goes inside the end quotes (e.g. “word.” or “word!” not “word”. or “word”!).

    Good luck!

  151. Cham -  July 29, 2011 - 6:22 am



  152. Valerie -  July 29, 2011 - 6:05 am

    Jame: Beginning a text with a comma is just plain weird. That’s my impression.

  153. Bee -  July 29, 2011 - 5:39 am

    Interesting article! I start emails with the person’s name & often add it to body of email to (hopefully) convey warmth, especially if in a heavy topic which the person & I are discussing. I do not use exclamation points unless absolutely necessary because to me they are annoying, especially written like this !!! One will do, thank you. Also people should really try to spell correctly, none of the shorthand/text abbreviations because not everyone in the world “texts”. I try to do as Christopher does – “I always capitalize my sentences and put punctuation marks in emails. I structure them like letters and like to add happy faces and sad faces.” although more difficult to do in chat rooms where everything moves so fast.

  154. FourColorTheorem -  July 29, 2011 - 5:16 am

    D-Rock writes, “I totally judge their personality…”

    That’s different from partially judging, I guess. Maybe I’m just an O. F., but I find this use of the word “totally” to be totally silly. I suspect that those who use the word that way may themselves have high levels of silliness.

  155. Mayisha -  July 29, 2011 - 2:15 am

    I overuse the caps lock and exclaimation points. Maybe I like to. I’m usually informally formal. Meaning I write what I’d say, but I do have Grammar. Like now. I’m pretty much writing exactly what I’d say.

    I agree with EmilyFrances, I feel like schools in America aren’t putting enough focus on Grammar and spelling. They expect us to do this on our own, like what the heck!? Aren’t they supposed to be teaching us!?

    I disagree though, on the emoticons point. Maybe someone is super happy or super sad. I, for one, abuse those too. Does that mean I have bad Grammar and spelling? No, it just means I’m feeling very…emotional.

    One big point I hate though:

    One big point I love though:
    Proper usage of you’re and your, there and their, etc.

  156. Archon -  July 29, 2011 - 12:55 am

    @ CB

    Re; judgment vs judgement

    Forgive them, for they know not what they do. The site is based on the U.S. west coast. They speak and write American, not English. Even the dictionary section shows it without the “e,” but gives it with the “e” and says “Especially British.” From words like armour and honour, they drop letters faster than an illiterate hillbilly’s ball cap, they’re in such a hurry to tell you what a great country they are. But don’t sweat it too much, even a good English dictionary says that “judgment” has been an acceptable alternative spelling since about 1300A.D., long before Americans and their patois even existed.

  157. gwen -  July 29, 2011 - 12:02 am

    i tend to type in all lowercase letters if i’m writing an informal email, but with proper capitalization if it’s anything other than to a friend. when i’m making brief and casual forum posts, i often leave out periods and instead jump to the next line or just write in awful run-on sentences; i’m aware that i do it though. it all depends on who i’m writing to and where. i don’t use a lot of emoticons.

  158. EmilyFrances -  July 28, 2011 - 11:13 pm

    I find that a person’s tone can be easily misunderstood and misinterpreted through emails and text messages. For example, you said that the excessive use of exclamation marks denotes happiness or “feminity” but I find that they are also used to denote anger or excitement or even sometimes sadness.
    The tone of a message cannot be interpreted from the punctuation (or lack thereof) alone, you need to look at the context of the punctuation; the words of the message themselves. Yet even those are not definitive to a particualar emotion, there are combinations of words that could mean several things and the meaning and tone can only be derived from the context of the conversation in conjunction with that message, its words and the punctuation used.

    I agree with Keeley about the emoticons and the spelling errors/abreviations being a bad habit. I know too many people (including, to some extent, myself) that have started using these emoticons and abbreviations in messages and writings outside of texts or emails with friends and associates. “Txt speak” and the bad grammar caused by it is spreading to homework/assignments/exams, “formal” letters/emails and to important and potentially legal applications for a whole range of things.

    People are forgetting how to spell properly and how to use proper grammar. What’s worse is that schools (at least in Australia) aren’t teaching children how to use grammar properly or how to do practical things like write essays or reports, they seem to take it for granted that the children know/will pick up these skills and their language and communication skills are suffering as a result.

  159. Aisja -  July 28, 2011 - 10:51 pm

    I absolutely do think these observations align with my own perceptions of email personality. Moreover, it’s not only e-mail can be used as a medium I can use to have a “flash-read” about people’s personality — tweets can be also!

  160. Christopher Schwinger -  July 28, 2011 - 10:50 pm

    I always capitalize my sentences and put punctuation marks in emails. I structure them like letters and like to add happy faces and sad faces.

  161. CB -  July 28, 2011 - 10:19 pm

    I tend to reserve judgment about articles relating to the incorrect use of grammar, punctuation, and spelling when the link on the website’s home page to said article misspells the word “judgement” (especially on a DICTIONARY website).

  162. H -  July 28, 2011 - 9:44 pm

    Depends to whom I’m writing and e-mail to. If it’s someone close, the e-mails are more laid back grammar and spelling not a priority (although I often try to be correct.) I do sometimes have a tendency to use too many exclamation marks, though, and I do use emoticons. If the e-mails are to people I am not close to or have a professional relationship with, they are formally written. Sometimes the e-mails would come off a little harsh (in my opinion) so I always read them over and choose specific words to make them sound professionally friendly.

  163. J_dada -  July 28, 2011 - 9:41 pm


  164. Terry -  July 28, 2011 - 9:33 pm


    I like to start with a greeting as well.

    But to break up my thoughts, and to be concise, I always add a hard return between thoughts – which are no more than two sentences at a time.

    Know what I mean?

    I call it chunking. I find that it helps when I read digital articles that are formatted in this manner. I can consume information more quickly.

    I end with,


  165. jame -  July 28, 2011 - 9:24 pm

    ,when I’m texting, I always start my message with “comma (,)” to tell my friends that it is really me who they’re texting, because it happened that there’s someone who pretended to be me (maybe a foe) and texted my friends, saying nonsense and horrible words with them to destroy my image. Good thing my close friends did not believe to that pretender, because they know it was not my style in texting.
    One more thing I also use smileys to express what i feel. :)

  166. Book Beater -  July 28, 2011 - 8:30 pm

    E-mail I try to use traditional letter forms. Texting I spell every thing out but will use two extra ! to emphasise excitement. Fortunatley, the young people who text with me concede to my age and spell most of their text out. Otherwise I’d have to keep a text lexicon at work.

  167. mickey mouse -  July 28, 2011 - 7:19 pm

    “Reading is subjective!” ; )

    People read with the eyes of their opinions.

    Say the word “God” and the reader reflexively assumes you are with him or against him, indifferent to whatever the information may impart.

    Be expressive and consequently communication may follow… say I

  168. Blackfeathr -  July 28, 2011 - 7:13 pm

    As a 21 year old with parents actively participating in email and a small part of the internet, it drives me buggy receiving forwards (no matter how much I tell her and her friends not to send me them anymore) that are poorly written, have ten exclamation or question marks, spaces in between punctuation, caps lock, unnecessary word capitalization, and that’s just a few. It grinds on the grammar-nitpicking part of my brain.

    I do see those emails with “CAPS LOCK AND EXCESSIVE PUNCTUATION !!!!!!!?????????!!!!!!” to be from a female, older than thirty-five, and not very computer-literate and perhaps forgot a few lessons in Language Arts class. Contrastingly, those with “CAPS LOCK AND EXCESSIVE PUNCTUATION WITH SHORTEND WRDS LYK U N ME N EVRY1 USES DUH !!!!!!!!!!!” as coming from a younger female, in preteen years, thinking that if they stab the caps lock key hard enough, people will hear them through the computer.

    One can call me sexist when thinking the horrible grammar comes from females. Considering I’m female, I doubt that has any weight in the argument.

  169. Raymond Bi -  July 28, 2011 - 7:04 pm

    Yes, me too Jamie. I like to write professional e-mails too.

  170. Nicole -  July 28, 2011 - 6:53 pm

    One thing I want to point out, especially since it drives me absolutely batty–the “dot dot dot”. There are times when it’s appropriate, but far too frequently I see it as a sign of indecision or depression, used by passive people who act like they’re afraid to speak their mind.

  171. Books Rule -  July 28, 2011 - 6:11 pm

    That’s really interesting. I like to use emoticons and use lot’s of punctuation marks to show how I feel about something.

  172. Keeley -  July 28, 2011 - 6:01 pm

    It depends to whom I am sending the message to. (Did I use “whom” correctly?”)

    When its a friend, I attempt to separate my thoughts using “…”…does this mean that I’m trying to continue the flow of conversation?…Keep it moving?…Let me know :-)

    The emoticons are a bad habit…I was beginning to subconsciously use those in my college papers. As if my professors couldn’t understand humor!

    Spelling errors are ALWAYZ wrong! (Oh that just hurt!)…and so are the incorrect uses of “theres” and “yours”.

    Do not do an article on text messaging…it hurts condensing thoughts on “email etiquette”!

  173. Rose -  July 28, 2011 - 5:54 pm

    I hate it when people use too many exclamation marks or question marks. I always assume they’re trying to annoy me on purpose.
    I always start out with a greeting and end with my name. Typically I’ll try to work the person’s name into the first sentence or the greeting itself.

  174. wish -  July 28, 2011 - 5:36 pm

    I always begin my text with a greeting and 3 exclamation points to be exact :P i usually end my sentences with some sort of emoticon :) <—like this haha.

  175. D-Rock -  July 28, 2011 - 5:35 pm

    Yeah this is a great article for sure. I know that when somebody texts me or emails me I totally judge their personality type based on what kinds of word choice and puncuation they use. Often times I feel an excited and/or innocent energy when people use excessive exclamation points. Also, it’s kind of cool paying attention to how many people actually use commas correctly (if at all). Personally, I try to always maintain a formal tone with my general audience. However, if I am texting a girl I might try to “zest it up” with some exclamation just to transfer an enthusiastic feeling. It works!

  176. luna eclipse -  July 28, 2011 - 5:14 pm

    i like to write in letter form with no caps- I’m the e.e. cummings of this generation. i also like smiley faces, or mojos.

  177. Jamie -  July 28, 2011 - 4:47 pm

    I always like to start the email out with the person’s name and a dash next to it, followed by the message beneath.


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