Learner Audience: The netiquette rules on this page are for adult learners in online business courses in a community college setting. Some students have never participated in online courses before or are unfamiliar with the concept of professional business communication.

What is "professional netiquette?" Today, a successful business career depends on a professional presence in person and on the Internet and that means following some specific rules of "professional netiquette" in electronic communications. Professional business netiquette can be defined as the social aspect of doing business via email or other types of discussion methods on the Internet.

The business online classroom consists of two main methods of electronic communication - email and class discussion boards. Please keep the following guidelines in mind.

Respect: Every person in the online classroom deserves to be treated with respect. Show respect by starting your emails and discussion posts with a greeting such as "Hello" or "Hi" followed by the person's name. Closing your post or email with a simple "Thank you" or "Regards" is also a nice thing to do. Netiquette creates an environment where learning is respectful, productive and enjoyable.

Empathy: There will always be differences of opinion on some subjects. Read and reflect on your classmates' writings first before responding. Try to see the issue from their perspective and ask for clarification if you don't understand something they posted. You may end up agreeing to disagree on some things, but it's better to strive to understand than to strive to always be in the right.

Substance: One or two word responses to someone's message or posting sends the message that you might not care what they had to say. Respond in a way that proves you have read and thought about what the other person has posted. Examples of how to do this could include:

  • Providing concrete examples, perhaps from your own experience, that add to the conversation.
  • Describing possible consequences or implications of what the person is proposing.
  • Posing a clarifying question or suggesting a different perspective or interpretation
  • Pulling in related information from other sources – books, articles, websites, other courses, etc.

Participate: You are part of a professional learning community in your business courses. Take part fully and consistently. Post on time to the discussion boards so your classmates have adequate time to read and respond to your comments and ideas. If you are part of a class team working on a project, communicate regularly with them. Be sure to follow up all comments to your posts or emails in a timely manner as well.

Ethics: Always give credit where credit is due and don't copy or imitate the thoughts, ideas or work of others. It's very easy to Google a subject and copy & paste digital content that isn't yours. Be original and be honest. Authenticity goes a long way on the Web.

Constraint: Words can be enormously constructive as well as extraordinarily destructive. Be thoughtful and mindful of what you write and never write anything you wouldn't say to the other person if you were in the same room with them. Words once posted or sent by email are hard to take back and seem to live forever on the Web.

Tone: Be conscious of your “tone” and choice of words when writing emails or responding in discussions. It’s very easy to misinterpret comments when you cannot rely on tone of voice, body language and facial expressions as we do in a normal face-to-face conversation or over the telephone. What you may have intended as friendly advice, for example, may come off as sounding demanding or condescending to another reader.

Use RESPECT to remember the guidelines of netiquette in your course.



  • Use greetings and closings in your emails and posts.


  • Try understanding the other person's point of view.


  • Show others you value what they have to say with a thoughtful response.


  • Post well before deadlines so others have time to respond to your ideas and opinions.


  • Give credit where credit is due.


  • Never write anything in a post or email that you wouldn't say to someone in person.


  • Intentions can be easily misinterpreted in online communications.
  • Choose words and phrases that are constructive, not destructive.