See what I did there? Got your attention, right?
Okay, seriously, does font size in business email matter? I was asked this in a visitor email who requested that I cover the topic. Then, the very next day, I received another size-related request asking how long should emails be?
Each “size” issue is different so let’s cover each separately.
What if you receive an email where the font is much larger than normal? Or only certain words or phrases are larger?
Tried and True Guideline
If you are a regular reader, you know what I’m going to say…
If you wouldn’t do it on business letterhead, don’t do it in business email!
Any text larger than other email text will be perceived as adding emphasis. You will then have no control of the level emphasis perceived by the recipient. That could prove disastrous and lead to unintentional misunderstandings. You can pretty much count on the other side adding more emphasis than you intended. (This goes for bolding too!)
So, what’s with larger fonts?
Unless we are referring to headlines in formatted newsletters, there is no reason for selectively increasing font size. When you send an email, the other side is using the words you use and how you type them to determine intent and tone.
Since it takes a manual setting change to increase the font size — folks will assume there is a reason for doing so. And if it is much larger, do be surprised if they take that to mean you are raising your voice.
Keep your font size set at the default of your email software program and if emphasis is your goal, choose the words the best fit your intent. Work at growing your vocabulary in lieu of relying on formatting.
From my point of view, after all these years I’ve yet to run into a situation in business email where making the font larger served any constructive purpose.
Next, Length of Emails
Is there a limit or guideline as to how long emails should be?
This is where your discretion comes into play! Emails are not meant to be manifestos and are best used for quick and concise communications.
I recommend that if you have a complicated or extended topic to communicate that you pick up the phone or have an in-person meeting. In my experience it is not uncommon to have miscommunications or have details get lost in long-winded (more than a handful of paragraphs) communications.
Most folks scan — they don’t read. So if you need to make multiple points, use bullet lists. Keep your sentences to less than 20 words and your paragraphs to 2-3 sentences. These tips will help make your emails easier to read and more concise.
If you have a bunch of info to share, include it in an attachment. Use your email as a brief summary as to what the attachment contains. PDF works best because it is not software or platform specific.
Just be sure that your attachments are not gargantuan. I talk about that in more detail here.
Now you know that size does matter — in email too!
Have a topic or question you would like to see me cover here on my blog? Let me know here!