Managing Your E-mailsE-mail BasicsE-mail TemplatesE-mail ProvidersE-mail Safety & Security

You Are Here: Home > Writing E-mails > Formatting Your E-mails

Formatting Your E-mails

There are several ways to format the text in e-mails that can dramatically improve them.


Before considering formatting, it is important to recognize that some people (very few) only get e-mail in a basic format (known as plain text). This means that they don't see any colors, bold text, italics, active hyperlinks or images.

Most people can now receive "HTML" e-mail. This allows all sorts of formatting to be used. Some people abuse this, and put in icons, flashing text, photos and all sorts. This can just make messages look childish.

However, when use correctly, there are various formatting techniques that can help get your message across.


Bold should be used to highlight the key points of your message. Use the Under 10 Rule for bold (no more than 10% of your total text should be in bold, and no more than 10 words in a row). So, don't put full paragraphs in bold.

Italics should be used to explain how to speak the text (which words to emphasize - e.g. "Do you really want me to do that?") and also for books, and names of things.

Avoid underlying text, because it gets confused with hyperlinks.

Use larger text for headlines.

Use color carefully and rarely - you should only use red and green. Red for things that are vitally important, warnings, or that something is wrong. Green for things that are okay, passed or within acceptable limits.

Many e-mail programs block images from automatically showing, so the receiver may not even see the message as you intended. If you want to include a photo or image, just attach it to the e-mail and say "see attached photo" in the text.

Bookmark and Share

Privacy Statement