I receive e-mails every week asking if bolding or changing font color to red is the same a yelling or screaming. Is it the same as using all caps? It can be.
Most who ask me these questions are trying to interpret what the person who sent them the e-mail really meant. They aren’t sure and do not want to assume. But they know. Bolding and red type means the other side is trying to make a point they don’t want you to overlook!
When you take the time and make the extra effort to bold or change font colors on certain words or statements you are making an emphasis. Now, the tricky part is how is that emphasis going to be perceived by the person(s) on the other side?
That depends. The very same e-mail sent to different people can garner different reactions based on the relationship dynamics between you. The very same e-mail can be perceived differently depending on how close you are or how well the person on the other side knows you. That is because we all “read” things into e-mails — things that are not there. We assume what the other side meant. That is very dangerous territory but everyone does it.
So how do you avoid misunderstandings? Don’t rely on formatting or caps to make your points. The English language in particular is filled with verbs and adjectives for every occasion. Bone up and hone your written communication skills so that you can relay your intent and tone by choosing the appropriate words to do so.
By making this extra effort, you can communicate with clarity and not leave any guess-work to formatting.