I receive a lot of junk mail, as do many Internet users today, but what surprises me more than anything is how often legitimate mail looks like junk, which increases the probability that these messages will be blocked by aggressive mail filters or wind up in a Spam or Bulk Mail folder.When composing email, there are a number of things you can do to help prevent your messages from being blocked or miscategorized. There are no guarantees, of course, but follow these suggestions and you will go a long way toward helping your messages get through to your intended recipients:1. Make sure your name appears in the From: field that your recipients see. First and last name are preferred, but first name is fine. Avoid using an email address only. Your email program’s settings will allow you to access and edit this information. 2. Include a few words that relate to the topic of your message in the Subject line. Some mail servers today automatically delete any message with a blank Subject line. Avoid generic phrases like “Hi” or “Hello,” or any reference to mortgages, vitamins or Viagra. 3. Don’t attempt to write your entire message in the Subject line field. Many mail services will truncate lengthy Subject lines, leaving your recipient with a few meaningless words in the Subject line and the body of the email blank.4. Don’t begin your message with an ALL CAPS greeting or with lots of exclamation marks. Many server-level mail filters are content-based and as such examine the body of each message. Start a message with a personal greeting, if possible, such as, “Hi John,” or simply start writing your message, but avoid screaming “headline” type opening lines. 5. Spammers frequently have atrocious grammar and spelling, and often intentionally misspell words (such as drug names) to elude mail filters, so use a spell-checker. An abundance of spelling errors in a message may be perceived as spam by mail filters.6. Avoid animation within the body of a message. Anti-virus programs are becoming more aggressive, blocking messages with embedded code that can be used for malicious purposes. Email is for communication. You can’t go wrong if you keep your messages simple, in plain text, and get to the point.If you follow these simple guidelines, you will be doing just about everything you can do to stay out of the grasp of mail filters. For a comprehensive review of email do’s and don’ts, visit my free, four-part treatise at http://bit.ly/1j77c8r.
Mr. Modem publishes “Ask Mr. Modem!” each week, featuring PC tips, tricks and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit www.MrModem.com.