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Email Text Emphasis: Red Means Red!

Red text in email adds emphasis.

It is common for me to get emails asking what a sender meant by including specific text in their email that has been purposely changed to red. I believe most folks know what the sender meant — they want to confirm their suspicions.

Red is an aggressive color. The term “seeing red” means someone is mad or so upset that they see red. But what level of red, exactly?

Negative

Aggressive
Dangerous
Dominance
Impulse

Positive

Confidence
Excitement
Sexuality
Vitality

Effects

Caution
Draw Attention
Stimulate
Provoke

Emotions

Action
Anger
Passion
Power

When communicating with the written word, it is safe to assume that when someone changes the select text to the color red, they want to make a point.

But how much of a point?

They could have bolded the text or added emphasis. But the sender didn’t — they changed the text to the color red.

How do you determine how much of a point they are trying to make? Red means pretty much the most emphasis possible.

Red Indicates Importance and Anger

How would you perceive that if the sender changed certain words or sentences to red in important old-fashioned printed communication?

I know I’ve seen this approach in snail-mail advertising. Primarily to get a reaction and stress the importance of whatever is being promoted.

Most would assume, and correctly so, that the author adds a robust emphasis to those particular terms or sentences. The same goes for email.

And, when you use red, a known aggressive color, you risk leaving that level of emphasis up to the person on the other side. They will decide the intensity. Plan on them adding more emphasis than you may have intended.

Any change to standard and customary email settings will cause recipients to pause and wonder about your intent. For example, if certain words or phrases are a different color, one can assume you want them to stand out. Color them red — and that is a critical or aggressive point!

Vocabulary Over Colors

Show those you communicate with that you have a breadth of vocabulary to express what you mean, whether anger or simple emphasis, instead of relying on formatting to get your message across.

Yep, I’ve written about this topic before…

Get the word out...