It is very common for me to get e-mails asking what a sender meant by having only certain text in their e-mail purposely changed to red. This week three e-mails to be exact. So let’s cover this again!
Red is an aggressive color. The term “seeing red” means that someone is mad or so upset that they are seeing red. When it comes to communicating with the written word it is safe to assume when someone changes select text to red — that they are making a point. But how much of a point?
They could have simply bolded the text or actually added emphasis. But they didn’t — they changed the text to red.
Red Indicates Importance and/or Anger
If in a an important written communication only certain words or sentences were changed to red, how would you perceive that? Most would assume, and correctly so, that the author was making a strong point. It would mean they are adding a robust emphasis to those particular terms or sentences. Same goes for e-mail.
And, when you use red, you leave that level of emphasis up to the person on the other side to decide the level of emphasis you implied. Plan on them adding more emphasis than you may have intended!
Any change to the standard and customary e-mail settings will cause recipients pause and to wonder about your intent. If certain words or phrases ares a different color, yes, one can assume the you meant to make a point. Color them red — and that is an important or aggressive point!
Vocabulary Over Colors
Show those you communicate with that you have a breadth of vocabulary to communicate what you mean, whether it be anger or simple emphasis instead of relying on formatting to get your message across. That’s simply how educated folks communicate.