I was complimented twice recently about how I respond to emails. Both clients who mentioned this loved the fact that I responded point by point to their inquiries instead of just hitting reply and top posting. One commenting that they knew exactly what I was responding to which they called refreshing.
What is Top Posting?
Top posting is when you hit Reply and type your response above the email you are responding to. Your entire response is above the email you are responding to which is below in its entirety.
Why is top posting not conducive to clarity in your communications? You can very easily neglect providing requested or necessary specifics. Questions end up unanswered or a gray area is created as to what your comments are specifically in response to.
Why Down-edit Your Email Replies?
Down-editing email is a skill that adds certainty to your communications by allowing you to respond point by point. Doing so also helps to avoid misunderstandings due the recipient not knowing exactly what you are replying to.
Once you hit Reply, and type a courteous greeting, you should remove any part of the email that is not necessary to the ongoing conversation. This includes email headers and signature files. In other words, down-editing allows you to respond to the guts of the inquiry.
Responding point by point reflects consideration for the Sender’s time and your command of technology. Those you communicate with will not have to weed through your communications to get the info they seek. You will quickly gain the reputation of being easy to communicate with. All positives for your brand!
By down-editing your email responses properly, you can leave that oh-so-important professional impression with new business contacts. Those who are determining what it will be like to do business and communicate with you via email. It is a skill that is developed over time — by doing. Since most onliners are anemic in this area you will shine by just making these simple efforts!
Quick Tips to Down-edit your Email Replies
- The best way to down-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 an empty line above between where you will type your response and the text above that you are replying to. Type your comments as it relates to the content above.
- Continue to do the same as your reply continues. Remove what doesn’t matter, leave what does, hit enter twice and type your response.
- 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. They then know that I either have no comments specifically related to that portion of the email or that none are required.
- Email becomes very difficult to follow when you start adding all the back and forth >>>>s or left sidebar vertical lines. With each new reply, down-edit all but the very last response that you are replying to.
- Many times after a bunch of back and forths the subject matter of the email has changed direction too. Make a habit of starting a new email after the topic has changed direction by creating a new relevant SUBJECT: field to better reflect the direction of the conversation.
- When replying to an ongoing series of e-mails where the SUBJECT: does not 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:.
Be Known as a Clear Communicator!
We have all received emails where questions we asked were not answered due to top posting. Or how about the emails where you just aren’t sure what the reply applies to — specifically? Down-editing reduces having to ask for clarification. When you down-edit, your contacts will know exactly, specifically, what you are responding to!
Integrating these steps when replying to your business email can help keep your conversations on track and easier for all to read. Now you know the benefits of implementing down-editing in your email replies. Why not start impressing your contacts today?