What Is Netiquette? (With 10 Basic Rules To Follow)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 20, 2022 | Published July 27, 2021

Updated July 20, 2022

Published July 27, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Following internet etiquette, or netiquette, can help ensure you're being respectful to other online users. These guidelines are important when interacting with people online for various purposes, such as remote work, online classes and social media. Learning how to practice netiquette may help you communicate better and make connections digitally.

In this article, we explain what netiquette is, explain why it's important and provide 10 rules for practicing netiquette with examples.

What is netiquette?

Netiquette refers to internet guidelines that advise people on how to communicate and treat others when interacting online. These guidelines can apply to multiple aspects of the internet, such as email, message forums and video chats. Practicing netiquette is like practicing etiquette because both involve interacting with others respectfully. However, the rules for netiquette are specific to online communication.

Importance of practicing netiquette

Practicing netiquette can be important for strengthening your online reputation. Potential employers often research job candidates, and they might be more likely to hire someone who treats others with respect.

It's also valuable to practice netiquette so you can communicate effectively with people like coworkers, classmates or teachers through online platforms. For example, you may find it important to know how to write a kind, professional email when inquiring about a job opportunity with a potential employer.

Related: 13 of the Best Practices for Remote Workers

10 rules for practicing netiquette

Here are 10 rules you can follow that may help you practice good netiquette when engaging in online conversations:

1. Practice using empathy

Empathy involves practicing patience and understanding when interacting with others. When speaking to someone on the internet, you can use empathy to better relate to their emotions and experiences. For example, if someone says something you disagree with, you can practice empathy by listening actively and asking respectful questions to better understand their point of view.

2. Use a friendly tone

Using a kind tone is important for conveying respect online. Tone refers to how your messages sound to your recipients, including your word choice and syntax. If you're messaging someone online, try to use a kind tone to show that you respect their opinions. Here are a few ways you can convey kindness on the internet:

  • Use positive words in your messages

  • Be friendly and write polite comments

  • Offer praise to other users when relevant

  • Use phrases like "please" and "thank you"

Related: 13 Examples of Tone in Writing

3. Use respectful language

It's important to use respectful language when communicating with others online because people may evaluate how you treat them based on how you speak to them. Try to use polite language while speaking to others online, such as when you're posting in a public forum or interacting with people on social media. For example, you might use casual language while talking to a coworker online, but you might use more formal, respectful language when speaking with a manager online.

4. Send messages if appropriate

It's important to send an appropriate amount of messages or emails to people online. For example, you might send only work-related messages to your coworkers or send only school-related messages to your classmates. People might appreciate it if you only send a few emails within a specific timeframe, such as once a week or whenever necessary or appropriate.

5. Check for grammar mistakes

Checking for grammar or spelling mistakes is important for being professional online. For example, if you need to message your coworkers in an online forum, consider proofreading your message for errors and typos before you send it. You can also read your messages aloud or use grammar-checking software to help you notice potential writing mistakes.

6. Respect other people's privacy

Valuing people's privacy online is important when using the internet. Whether you're speaking to people on social media, messaging your classmates or emailing your coworkers, you can respect other people's privacy by asking permission before sharing their information or posting anything about them or with them in it including photos or video.

7. Ensure messages are clear

Being clear in your communication can help people properly interpret your messages online. You may try writing simple sentences and defining unfamiliar words or acronyms in your writing so the recipient can understand your message clearly. You can also create an outline before writing your message to help you identify what to include in your message and how to organize the information. After writing, reread your message and determine if your message is as clear as possible or if you need to revise anything.

Read more: 11 Writing Strategies for Effective Communication

8. Create posts that are appropriate

Creating appropriate online posts is important for netiquette because your posts can contribute to your online image. Coworkers and employers may see what you post online, so it's important to ensure your messages, videos or photos are appropriate. Consider posting things about yourself that help maintain a positive image and that are appropriate for a professional setting. You can try to evaluate what you post online to ensure that it's positive and respectful toward others.

9. Respond to emails on time

Checking emails regularly and responding to them in a timely manner is important because people often use email to communicate ideas and share information with others quickly. For example, a manager could send important work information to their employees in a mass email. If email is your primary mode of communication, you can prioritize responding to your emails by setting a reminder each day to read and reply to your emails.

Related: 20 Best Practices for Email Etiquette in the Workplace

10. Read content thoroughly

Reading messages or comments thoroughly is essential for understanding what others are trying to communicate to you. Whether you're replying to a discussion post for an online class or answering a coworker's question on your company's messaging app, try to read comments carefully to ensure that you understand the content of a message before you reply. This can also help you write messages that fully address the recipient's comments or questions.

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