When Senders change certain verbiage within an e-mail to the color red, they are making a point — and a strong point at that! The use of red to indicate emphasis is an extra effort taken by the Sender to make sure the Recipient understands just how strongly they feel about the topic at hand.
Colors Have Meaning
Did you know that red is viewed as an aggressive color? Red is known as an intentionally intense high-visibility color. Red is often used as a way to emphasize only certain points that lead to folks e-mailing me and asking “What did they mean by using red for certain words in their e-mail?” Usually followed by “Were they yelling at me?”
Making a Point!
The Sender meant to make a point, to add strong emphasis and wanted to ensure those words in particular caught your attention. Yes, you could say that they were using a louder voice — but not yelling at you as typing in all caps would indicate.
Now, typing in all red caps without a doubt reflects the Sender is clearly upset and unmistakably wants you to know that. When it comes to your business e-mails, if you have the itch to type in caps and turn them red; it may be best you cool off and wait until the next morning to respond when cooler heads can prevail.
Use Words; Not Color
In over 20 years I have never changed text to red as a tool to communicate tone or emphasis in my business e-mails. You don’t selectively “red” words on your business letterhead so why would you do it in an e-mail? Simply because you can?
When you use red for emphasis, know that you are are leaving the level of emphasis to be determined by the other side. Risky at at best. Therefore, why not work on choosing the proper words that relay your intent and tone? The English language offers a plethora of words for you to choose from to make your point!
Red has a long history of being an aggressive color. For the ancient Romans, a red flag was a signal for battle. Because of its visibility, stop signs, stoplights, brake lights, and fire equipment are all painted red. To “see red” is to be angry.
So, if you are “seeing red” know that the Sender clearly wanted to make a point to you — no need to wonder what they meant by doing so. And if you change text to red, don’t be surprised if the recipient’s response indicates they saw red and responded in kind.