Email formatting and other considerations

emailGive email back its power! The Office of Communications is conducting an email awareness campaign to help everyone make email more efficient.

1. Keep your writing style professional — remember than an email is a business letter. Tips:

  • USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS LOOKS AS IF YOU'RE SHOUTING.
  • using all lowercase letters looks lazy.
  • Overusing underline, italics, bold and/or word colors looks unprofessional and detract from the message you are trying to convey.
  • Outlook is very customizable — if you like color and patterns and different fonts, use them in your personal email settings, but do not use a lot of colors or graphics embedded in your outgoing messages because not everyone uses an email program that can display them. Also, different colored background and words can become unreadable to someone who is colorblind, has other visual difficulties or is reading email from a mobile device.
  • Proofread. If you are prone to typos, spell check your email before you hit send.
  • Any of the above usages makes your email look unprofessional, gimmicky or like it's spam.

2. Use clean typefaces. Tips:

  • In Microsoft Outlook 2010, the default font that is used when you create, reply to, or forward an email message is 11-point Calibri. This is a good font and font size to use. Avoid script or cursive fonts as these are very hard to read.

3. Use a signature that includes contact information.Tips:

  • To ensure that people know who you are, include a signature that has your relevant contact information, including your title, mailing address, web site, and phone numbers.

4. Use a signature for forwards so people know who you are. Tips:

  • In Outlook options, select your main signature (or create an abbreviated version with your name, title and phone number) for the "replies/forwards" option. 

5. Keep emails as short as possible to make your point. Tips:

  • Make sure the five key questions - who, what, when, where, why, how - are easily identifiable and comprehensible.

6. Use bullet points or numbered lists to summarize key ideas. This also makes it easier for a person to reply to each of your points.

7. A good rule of thumb is to consider your email as an extension of your resume — if you wouldn't do it on your resume, don't do it in your email.

Last modified: Jun 23, 2014
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