Fax Etiquette

by Brandon Pickard; Updated September 26, 2017
Fax machines are an integral tool for everyday business

For many businesses, sending and receiving faxes are a daily occurrence. Faxing is so common it's easy to slip into a casual communication. Following a few simple steps will help to keep your faxes looking professional. Practicing proper fax etiquette will ensure your business maintains the professional reputation you've worked so hard to build.

Sending Faxes

Always remember faxing documents is a business process. As such, keep in mind these basic guidelines:

  • Always include a cover page, free of any unnecessary information or artwork. Include on the cover sheet your name and contact information, the number of pages (including the fax cover sheet), the intended recipient and any other pertinent information. Remember, the fax recipient may not be the only one who sees the document, so make sure to keep the fax cover sheet professional.

  • After transmitting your fax, make a follow up call to the recipient. This does not require an in-depth discussion on what the fax contained. You are simply confirming the fax was received. It is appropriate in this conversation to let the person know they are free to call you with any follow up questions to the faxed materials at their convenience.

  • Use discretion when faxing sensitive or confidential information. If you are sending information of a personal nature, call ahead to let the individual know you are sending the fax beforehand. One way to avoid this type of issue is to use an online faxing service. These services send faxed directly to a personal computer.

  • Be cautious with sending unsolicited materials. Everyone who works in an office knows how annoying those ads for lower-cost health insurance and the discounted trips to Hawaii can be. If you do send unsolicited faxes to your customers, do so only on the rare occasion when it's warranted. If you get a request from a recipient asking not to receive such faxes, respect their wishes and remove them from your list.

Recieving Faxes

As with sending faxes, there are etiquette rules around receiving faxes as well:

  • Respect the privacy of confidential faxes received. Don't share personal information with your coworkers that was intended solely for your viewing.

  • Do not leave sensitive faxes lying around where others could potentially see them. Treat faxes like you would any other confidential paperwork.

  • If you receive a fax in error, let the sender know by giving them a call. Usually, it is requested that you destroy any faxes received in error.

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About the Author

Brandon Pickard is a business and current events writer from Reno, NV. He is working on his MBA from the University of Nevada, Reno with a emphasis in English. His 15 years of business experience along with his in-depth knowledge of current events brings a unique and entertaining writing style to his work.