Inline E-mail Replies

  2007-10-09


Web Worker Daily’s 7 Rules for Communicating … In E-mail are pretty good, but they miss one of my pet peeves.

Separate important statements or questions into bullet points or at least their own paragraphs. This makes replying much easier.

For example here’s the wrong way to do it:

Thanks for looking into foo. But what about bar? I’d also like you to change oo in foo to more closely resemble the ar in bar. Whats the ETA?

I can’t reply to individual statements easily that way, so write like this:

Foo looks great but make the oo look more like the ar in bar.

How long will that take?

How long until bar is done?

Then I can easily reply inline with clear and concise answers:

Foo looks great but make the oo look more like the ar in bar.

Great. That shouldn’t be a problem.

How long will that take?

End of day today.

How long until bar is done?

After the above changes to foo it should take about another day.

But wait! It gets better! Now the discussion can continue on just one point very easily:

How long until bar is done?

After the above changes to foo it should take about another day.

bar is higher priority than foo. Please do it first.

Tada! Short and sweet communication. Not only that but you can forward that last message to someone else and they can read it from top-to-bottom to catch up.

This same conversation in the usual top-posted-paragraphs format would be an unreadable mess to outsiders by the end.

Now if only I could learn to be less verbose…