A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column on the importance of a good subject line on e-mails. This helps to ensure that the reader will open and read the correspondence. It also serves another important function. Unlike paper correspondences, e-mails are saved in your archive electronic folders so that the subject line, which appears when you call up the electronic folder, has a shelf life.

There are other rules or best practices that apply. There is one that is probably in the trial and development phase at many firms and that involves the placement of the IRS Circular 230 disclosure requirement. Should it go on all of the e-mails from the firm, or only to clients, or just when the e-mail mentions something to do with taxes, or when an e-mail goes to a tax client? Some firms are meeting on this issue right now, refining not just when but also where on the e-mail the statement should be shown.

There are many more rules a firm can explore. For example, what type of information should be included in the signoff portion of the e-mail? Does it depend at all on the recipient? Should you include your direct telephone number? What about the firm's Web site address?  Is there a reason to include your e-mail address in the signoff area? Does the firm make available to its members a list of dos and don'ts regarding the content and storage of e-mails?

Firms should have consistent and well-publicized policies and procedures regarding their e-mails. I invite you, by e-mail (What did you expect, snail mail?) to let me have your reactions to this column as well as to share with us anything special about what your firm does. If I get some interesting feedback, I'll post them along with my column next week.

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