Email/Discussion Group Netiquette Tips

The following are few tips that can make participation in an e-mail/discussion group easier and more enjoyable for everyone. Attempting to keep the information that gets on the mailing list pertinent to the group as a whole is beneficial because it prevents cluttering up of mailboxes and wasting of precious time of the participants of these lists.

Please take the time to read the entire document to familiarize yourself with common netiquette practices.

Joining a List/Discussion Group

Posting - General Tips

Posting - Subject Lines

Posting - Quoting

When quoting another person, edit out whatever isn't directly applicable to your reply. Don't let your mailing software automatically quote the entire body of messages you are replying to when it isn't necessary. Take the time to edit any quotations down to the minimum necessary to provide context for your reply. Nobody likes reading a long message in quotes for the third or fourth time, only to be followed by a one line response: "Yeah, me too."

What does quoted text look like? Email programs can display quoted text in a variety of ways, but the most common is for each line of text to be preceeded by the "greater than" symbol (>).

> This is quoted text

Some email programs will simply add the line "--- Original Message ---" (or something similar) to the top of the previous message with the expectation that you will type your reply above that. While this style of quoting is okay in a business situation -- that is, when you are having a discussion with a co-worker and would like to keep the entire message thread within each email -- it is definitely NOT okay when using discussion lists, as it only serves to make the mail difficult to read. If you are using an email program that quotes in this fashion, you will need to manually create your quoted text. The simplest way to do this is to edit out the text you don't want and add two slashes ("//") to the beginning and ending of the text you'd like to quote.

//This is also quoted text//

The number one rule of quoting is quote judiciously. Quote only what is essential to make it possible for the reader to understand what your posting or email message is about. As a rule avoid quoting an entire message (signatures and all). It is not judicious to quote, say, a hundred lines of discussion just to input a single line of one's own. Proper quoting is a skill. Please devote some time to working the quote appropriately. Don't be lazy in this respect.

Leave a blank line between the quoted text and your reply or else your text and the quoted text will difficult to distinguish from each other.


Where is the best place to put your reply? Above or below the quoted text?

BELOW! Some more recent standard email and newsreader programs have assumed a very problematic feature. They include the message which you are responding to below your message and expect you to type your reply above it. Don't allow that to happen! The proper order is

>Quote 1 (properly pruned)

Your response 1

>Quote 2 (properly pruned)

Your response 2

In other words, put each appropriately trimmed item that you choose to quote before each of your own comments respectively. Remove any remaining "postquoting." Let me emphasize. Do not leave the entire earlier posting, which you have been responding to, at the end of your own posting.

Answering above the the original message is called top posting. Sometimes also called the Jeopardy style. Discussion groups are Q & A not A & Q.


These things SHOULD NEVER be in quoted messages:

Posting - How Do I Edit My Messages?

Help! I've been asked to "edit my messages" but I don't know how!

We were all new once, so don't let it bother you that you don't know how to edit. :) Editing a message is very easy. With a little practice, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it!

When you are replying to a post, hit the REPLY button just as you have been doing. Hitting the REPLY button will include the entire OLD message in the NEW message you are creating. The goal of "editing" your message is to get rid of any information from the previous post that you don't need in order for your reply to make sense.

To edit, put your cursor at the top left of the section you DON'T want to include (for example the To/From/Subject stuff or the message footers and people's signature lines. Click and hold the left mouse button and drag across the section to highlight it. Then hit either the delete key or the space bar or enter key (whatever is comfortable for you) and it will remove the unwanted section. If you accidentally remove more than you intended, go to the menu bar at the top of the screen, look under EDIT and click on "Undo".... then start again. 'Undo' is also available from the menu that pops up when you right click on the mouse. Or pressing the CTRL button along with the Z button will also "undo" the last action.

Also, when you are replying to different portions of a previous message, it is normal procedure to skip to the different portions you are replying to using the "question, answer, question, answer" format discussed in the previous section. Just make sure you hit the Enter key to leave a space after the quoted text and include your comments below that section of the message so that people can tell where the quoted text ends and your reply begins. It makes it so much easier for everyone to understand what you are replying to.

You might be wondering why we ask people to please edit their messages. There are many reasons to dislike excessive quoting. The most common are:


Internet users in general have developed their own shorthand for e-communications. There is a comprehensive list of e-shorthand and emoticons (those little smiley faces made up of keyboard characters to indicate emotion) that can be found at the website here:

Another smaller, yet Early Edition skewed list can be found here:

For anything not covered in either of those sites, the general thing to keep in mind is that fans of a particular series will most often make acronyms out of the episode titles (DWAR for "Don't Walk Away Renee," etc.), out of the character names (GH for Gary Hobson), or out of the actor names (FS for Fisher Stevens). Keep those things in mind, and you shouldn't have any troubles.

Some commonly used acronyms/emoticons include:

LOL = Laughing out Loud
ROFLOL = Rolling of Floor Laughing out Loud
TPTB = The Powers That Be
TIIC = The Idiots In Charge
OT = Off Topic
TAN = Tangent
IMO = In My Opinion
IMHO = In My Humble Opinion
YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary
<g> = grin
<G> = big grin
<eg> = evil grin


Information contained in this email netiquette document has been culled from various sources. The list below contains some of those sources as well as other informative documents on Netiquette and proper quoting techniques. I recommend reading them all to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the process. Many of them are geared towards Usenet users, but the principles are the same.

ListManager's FAQ Page with section on "How Do I Edit?" - geared towards Onelist/eGroups/YahooGroups users.

Quoting Text in Replies from the news.newusers.questions FAQ.
A bit more on the
Netiquette and quoting by John Corliss.
Quoting from Zen and the Art of the Internet.
Trim down your quotes in Email Group Netiquette Guidance
Email Quotes and Inclusion Conventions
Quoting in JafSoft Limited's Introduction to the Internet
Proper quoting Alex D. Baxter
The Basic Rules of Netiquette; search for "Quoting"
On netiquette by Julie Waters; search for "Quoting".
Email Netiquette by Randy Ryan
Configuring Mail Clients to Send Plain ASCII Text from G. Boyd

This document, as well as the complete "Early Edition Lovers" list rules can be found at:

Note: You *must* be a member of the list and have already converted/merged your account with a Yahoo! ID in order to have access to the files area on the list's website. If you haven't already merged your account, go to and follow their directions. Then go back to the list's main page ( and make sure you're signed in.

This document is:
Last Messed With: December 30, 2001