Down-editing your email is a necessary skill that adds to clarity in your communications and helps avoid misunderstandings. In addition, responding point by point to those who email you also shows consideration for their time and your command of technology. It is a skill that is developed over time – by doing.
By editing your email properly, you can leave that oh-so-important professional impression with those new business contacts who will be determining what it will be like to do business and communicate with you via email. Since most onliners are anemic in this area – you will shine by making these simple efforts!
The first thing to remember is to never just hit Reply and start typing. This is known as top posting and not conducive to clarity in your communications. Once you hit Reply, and type a courteous greeting, you should remove any part of the email you are responding to that is not necessary to the clarity of the ongoing conversation. This includes email headers (all that server and routing info at the top of some email) and signature files.
Here are some additional quick tips to help you on your way!
- The best way to edit properly is to hold your left mouse button down and drag it over the text you want removed then hit delete.
- Hit your enter key twice to put a line space between where you will type your response and the text you are replying to above. Then type your comments as it relates to the content above.
- Continue to do the same as the email continues. Remove what doesn’t matter, leave what does, hit enter twice and type your reply.
- What I do when I have removed a good bit of text is to type “<snip>” after a substantial deletion. This lets the other party know that I did in fact read that paragraph or portion of text but that either I have no comments specifically related to that area of the email or that none are required.
- Email becomes very difficult to follow when you start adding all the back and forth >>>>s. Make a habit of starting a new email after >>> are in the return. At that point most likely updating the SUBJECT: to better reflect the direction of the conversation will be in order as well. These efforts help avoid misunderstandings due to all the back and forth. Check out this neato free program to help you out: Email Stripper.
- When replying to an ongoing series of email where the SUBJECT: doesn’t change, do what I do to keep your copies in order. Type “REPLY:” before the SUBJECT: field’s content. Then as the back and forth continues type: REPLY , REPLY , REPLY , etc. This is a great way to have the order of the entire conversation visible at a glance while allowing your email folders to keep the conversation in that order when sorted by SUBJECT:.
Integrating these steps when replying to email can help keep your conversations on track and easier for all to read. Besides, by setting a proper example others can learn from you which is
how most online learn new things.
Now, in my book, that’s as good a reason as any to get into the habit of down-editing your emails. Why not start today?