Do Not Default to "Reply All"

business man sweating at desk
Roy Hsu/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

If it's good to reply, it should be better to reply to all; right?

Yes, it is — but only if the reply is really important to all the recipients. How often is that the case? Have you, conversely, ever seen somebody reply to all by embarrassing mistake?

That's why it's best to use Reply to All cautiously.

Do Not Default to "Reply All"

Use your email program's Reply to All feature only when

  • your reply will be necessary to know for the original sender and all people in the original email's To: and Cc: field.

    Do not use Reply to All when

    • only the original sender needs to know your reply,
    • your comments will be crucial to know for the original sender and a few other recipients,
    • you have been a Bcc: recipient in the original message or
      • The Bcc: field should only be used to distribute emails while keeping the recipients' addresses confidential or to copy somebody internally, as proof, when delivering an email to the outside, for example.
        If you reply to all as a Bcc: recipient, you reveal yourself as a recipient.
    • your message says "Thanks!" or "Me too!".
      • Personally, I like thank-you notices. Make thanking everybody via a group mail the exception, though. Do send personal emails expressing your gratitude instead.