Business Email Formatting for Emphasis

Has this ever happened to you?

You check your email and there awaits an email with select text typed in all caps. Parts of the text are also in the color red. Others bolded.

  • Why are they so upset?
  • What did I do, didn’t do, say, didn’t say?

Emphasis is Always Over-Emphasized

An email with caps and red bold type greeted me in my inbox this morning. Not the best way to start your day. In my view, there is no place for typing in all caps or using formatting to reflect emphasis in business emails.

When all caps are used, you make a conscious choice to increase your voice and tone. True professionals just do not communicate in this manner.

What could an email structured like this portray about the sender?

  • Impatient
  • Emotional
  • Demanding
  • Unprofessional
  • Lack of Communication Skills

The email I received checked all those boxes.

None of the above contribute to a positive impression or to encourage long-term business relationships. That’s why I recommend that you choose your words carefully instead of having to rely on formatting to make a point.

There are always alternatives in the choice of verbiage you can use to get your point across with the intended importance. If you are not a skilled communicator with the written word, no time like the present to improve those skills. This is what email is after all.

Say No! to Formatting

Many business groups and forums allow users to post messages with added smileys, and to format their text for font, size and color. When you are marketing your business in forums, groups and blogs avoid using formatting as a communication crutch.

For business efforts, this is clearly a situation of just because you can doesn’t mean you do. Think of formatting as the exception to the rule. Let your command of the written word get your point across without relying on formatting to do so for you.

Intent is Intent

Caps, larger fonts, bolder and in red type will indicate a strong comment or point of view. Anticipate a reaction that is above and beyond what you may have intended.

If you ask anyone to read an email out loud that includes caps they will almost always raise their voice when reading capped text. Watch how they increase the emphasis on larger, bolder or red text.

Business communications of all types are about controlling the message. When you format your text, you lose that control and leave the level of emphasis to be determined by the recipient.

My experience shows your emphasis will be overemphasized many times to the point of misunderstanding. Also expect different levels of perceived emphasis depending on the relationship with the person you are communicating with.

You’ve lost control of your message. Willingly and based on the formatting choices you make.

Learning how to communicate without formatting is a true skill and one few make much effort to hone. Imagine how you can stand out from your perceived competitors by always having a cogent communication style regardless of the difficulty of the situation.

Work towards communicating with clarity simply by virtue of the words you choose and how you choose to use them. By not relying on bolding, font size, caps or colors is the true sign of a skilled communicator and professional.

Care to share?