- practice making emails short. Write, then rewrite to 50% of original length, then try to make it even shorter.
- make the request a separate paragraph (request = what you want the other person to do)
- if your email is an attempt to persuade someone, don't bother. Go talk to them. Email will cause you problems in your career if you keep that up. It's unsuitable as a means of discussion (same as Slack and any other written medium). The only reason to do that is if you can't get the other party on the phone/in person (which is almost never the case).
This really depends on the person being persuaded and the type of topic.
For me (and I know many that agree), it's better to put a complex topic into an email than to walk up to people. Organize your thoughts, use bullet points, prioritize the most important things, add web links or other evidence to support your ideas.
The problem is that when you just walk up to my desk or call me on the phone to talk about something complex, you're now forcing me to become your secretary and transcribe your notes. I'm now "writing out your email" that I would prefer you write yourself. That's not being respectful of my time. I can read at ~250 wpm; you can only talk at ~100 wpm.
Yes, if it's something lightweight like you're trying to convince me to go to the Chinese restaurant instead of Italian for lunch, go ahead and talk to me instead of write up an email. Otherwise, please consider if the recipient of your complex topic wants to be your "secretary".
I would be very curious of a survey that asked if people preferred to be convinced by coworkers talking to them instead of writing emails/reports with organized and coherent data. Would it be a minority or majority of respondents?
I can also assure you I speak faster than I type, and so it's not just your end that counts.
I'm also pretty sure I can say much fewer words with proper tone of voice to convey as much as 5x long email correctly, and a single word of your response and a look at your face as I speak will tell me more of what I should understand of your reaction than even the most elaborate written response...
Persuasion and discussion isn't about me laying out my point clearly in a tidy format though, right? It's about mind-sharing, interaction, sensitivity, etc.
Maybe we come from very different types of organizations? I have never, ever (!) in my 15+ year career been in a position where too many unprepared people forced me in any way to listen to their stupid / ill-prepared ideas....
[Edit] I'm also confused, how does someone coming up to talk to you forces you to write anything down?? (seriously I don't get that part :) )
Because the most important thing in corporate environment is paper trail. If someone comes to you in person and convinces you to do something you still need an email exchange with summary of what you've agreed on, otherwise someday someone will blame you for a bad decision, and you won't have anything material to defend yourself with.
> Maybe we come from very different types of organizations? I have never, ever (!) in my 15+ year career been in a position where too many unprepared people forced me in any way to listen to their stupid / ill-prepared ideas....
You truly work in some parallel universe to my own where the laws of office interaction are very different from those I've observed. Are you hiring?
If you're trying to persuade someone of something, you're the salesman in that situation. Keep that in mind.
>I can also assure you I speak faster than I type, and so it's not just your end that counts.
That wasn't the point; jasode was asserting that many people read other peoples' writing faster than others speak, not that other people can type faster than they can speak.
Agree with the rest of your post, but this was the main takeaway for me. If you compulsively take notes one every single face to face interaction, that's not my problem.
I tend to work in a banking infrastructure environment and it's common practice to take notes,
The number of conversations I have during the day often has me saying, I'm not going to remember everything you've said, could you put that in a email so I can get back to you properly.
It does depend on the environment,
If it matters, do both.
The email is for reference, the walk and talk is for communication, awareness and motivation.
I agree with your point that reading is better than listening for complex topics, but I don't agree this is the reason why, at least not for me.
I find that when someone is trying to orally explain something complex to me, I have to repeatedly tell them to repeat what they've said. They'll say a complex point, I'll think about it for a few seconds for the implications, and in that time they'll have said more things for which I was not listening because I was thinking of their previous point. I'll wait for a few seconds to see what keywords he'll say to see if I can fill in the lost seconds, and then just tell him to flat-out repeat the last X seconds if I can't figure out what he's talking about now. Telling him to repeat himself every few seconds is annoying to both of us, so I'll mostly just continue with what bits of information I can absorb at the speed he's speaking, and then we'll argue and find out the arguing wouldn't have been as necessary if I hadn't missed some points he said. Then we'll, again, talk about his speaking speed, but realize speaking without consideration of the listener is so core to him that it's hopeless to expect change.
It's mostly an issue with a coworker that doesn't think a bit before talking, as in he's not putting any effort into composing the information as he's providing it, and will just bombard me with mixes of relevant and not relevant information like a machine gun. It's exhausting to be super focused to spot when he's subtly gone off in a tangent and then argue with him about how that information is irrelevant to his previous point so he'll stop and get back on track to the issue.
Text, on the other hand, is usually composed, so the information is easier to digest. I can skim around based on keywords to find the most important information, and I can quickly go back and re-read to make sure I've understood the details of what I just read. I can also absorb this information at my own pace. I don't need to depend on the speaker matching his speaking to my listening.
I can also take my time in composing my reply and tune it so that it solves the issue with as little arguing and time wasted as possible.
- Formatting is useful, and should be used as needed, especially headings and, as indicated, color. Don't become a plaintext zealot. It's not a good hill to die on.
- Emails, like all communication, should be as short as possible -- but no shorter. Brevity itself is not a useful thing.
- The 2nd bullet is, about the request as a distinct paragraph, is good. A proper email that requests action should make that requested action VERY clear, along with expectations and ideally a timeline.
- Contrary to this assertion, email is actually an EXCELLENT forum for discussion in the right context. This is because email is easy to archive, and leaves a trail of the discussion. It's not the ONLY venue, but it's very useful, and in my career has been commonly used as such.
I have gotten into trouble being too concise in emails! Some people are quite sensitive to requests when they are too short, sometimes it helps to soften the request with a compliment or explaining the extenuating circumstances
I find restating context, even briefly, is nearly always worthwhile. You never want to make folks scroll down to see the rest of the chain if you can avoid it.
It can and does work. It's not a replacement for meetings (there's no one-size-fits-all in communication), but it is super useful and super effective if used correctly. I'm sorry your job has convinced you otherwise.
I think this is completely accurate for most companies, and so sad at the same time.
At a not so extreme point, this means people will pester anyone in a position to take decisions in any possible way.
They'll stalk to steal minutes here and there for subjects that can be super complicated and context sensitive, but not important enough to have people stop everything they're doing. They'll book meetings on lunch times, over other meetings. They'll derail meetings because couldn't get a separate meeting. They'll get comments and stark looks because they're obnoxious but it's also the only way to get any decisions from their perspective, and at the end of the day they'll be vindicated as their projects move forward while others stay in the mud.
It feels like hell on both sides of the stalking, I guess it's the price to pay when email or chat, or asynchronous communication is seen as a low tier channel.
Maybe it's just my crazy company, but there seems to be some kind of thing going on where having any amount of social skills is no longer mandatory. And I'm not talking about awkward people who may be hard to talk to, I'm talking about people where you wouldn't realize anything is wrong and then they go complain to HR that they feel "put under too much pressure" by certain people in face to face conversations (it's not just me that get often reported for this, it's like half the engineers). It's not like they really "punish" anyone or anything for these ridiculous reports, but they also don't do anything to solve the issue of people refusing to talk face to face.
Worth noting, it's not about social skills. It's about having the time to fully think through a complex issue and the information related to it. That just isn't possible during a synchronous conversation. You wind up having meetings where the things that get decided aren't the right things because people didn't have time to actually think through all the factors involved.
I've found myself in many situations where sleeping on an issue provides a much better, thorough and more clever solution than just blasting off an email. If I were to provide responses face to face, there's a good chance I'd be giving bad advice that may cost companies a lot of money.
I can't shake the feeling that the underlying reason (perhaps unconscious) GP recommends using face-to-face conversations for persuading is that these conversations are more successful at their goal than the email equivalent. This is a bad thing, in my opinion. Worse for me (who's been persuaded) and worse for the company.
Compare with advertising. The conversion rate of door to door sales is far better than a classified ad - and the reason is that salespeople are trained to be aggressive, pushy, emotionally manipulative, and force hasty decisions to get what they want. They are able to use a whole raft of techniques to get you to buy that printed ads cannot.
Similarly, rejecting decision making during interpersonal interactions has nothing to do with one's social skills. It's about recognizing one's own susceptibility to being emotionally manipulated in a conversation and rejecting that way of making decisions. Good for me, good for the company.
It's not surprising to me that the "old guard" who's learned to use these techniques in the business world for decades is a bit put off by people rejecting them outright. Then again, I'm sure there are many people who have been in business for decades who are glad to be able to let their guards down a bit with the shift to email. It's not just the young who have this preference, though because most didn't acquire these skills, they are the majority.
face-to-face conversations [...]
aggressive, pushy, emotionally
manipulative, and force hasty
1. It leaves a paper trail (good for accountability),
2. In the case of forgetting a detail or ambiguity, you can look back into the email.
I myself struggle with parsing and retaining spoken language, so I make sure to send email confirmations for specific tasks.
My 'go to' example, when explaining the power of brevity to others, is Hemingway's reputed resignation to his publisher. Vulgar, but a study in brevity: "Upshove Job Asswards".
My second example is also Hemingway, this time from a wager to write a story in 6 words. Hemingway won the wager: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_sale:_baby_shoes,_never_wo...
I've just never heard of bold as yelling, and am interested to know which cultures consider that to be so.
It's an unusual approach, but results in faster and higher quality decisions than any other method we've tried.
Just like paragraphs (which are just another form of formatting) using indentations, list items, font weights and capitalization correctly will help you structure any text and get your point across more easily.
It's important to keep in mind that email is quite literally the only domain, where this is even a topic of discussion, solely due to legacy reasons. I do like not having font color and h2 tags abused, but the key to that is email literacy, not taking away formatting options, that are helpful in making the medium work better for humans.
If I am working on a problem I have lots of concept in my head, and its my initial instinct to just write what I am thinking. On reading through the email a second time, I realize that I need to clarify what I mean by certain words / phrases as the reader hasn't been working on the same thing as me for the last few hours / days so their context will be very different from mine.
Well, for me it's mostly to keep people accountable. If you have written down in an email that the deadline is for day X, there is no way someone could say "well, you didn't tell me"
’I’m sorry this letter is so long, I didn’t have time to make it shorter.’
That said, I must disagree within the business context simply for the following reasons, all of which effect me daily in my career:
1. The Internet is global, the world is global, not everyone is a native English speaker and it is necessary to be very clear, and give sufficient time for understanding. Written communication facilitates this by being asynchronous and providing a pathway for transliteration. In my current role I interface with people across more than 60 countries to get large, complex, technology and engineering tasks completed. Email (and to a lesser degree Slack) is essential to this.
2. I work remotely, as do many of my peers, this makes a face to face conversation basically impossible. As a rule, an office culture of having face to face conversations as a preference subtlety devalues the contributions of remote workers and creates a separate political hierarchy within the organization based on higher rapport from face-to-face conversations and the availability of the "hallway track". By building a culture of written, asynchronous communication, we ensure that /all/ employees are on equal footing across the company both politically and materially.
3. My technical projects are of sufficiently high complexity and need a very high level of shared understanding, and that complexity is difficult to communicate with accuracy and precision in spoken word, as it often needs illustrative images accompanying an explanation. Rich text and images together are far more effective at communicating this complexity than speaking to someone. Better yet, is often a demo done via screen sharing or screen sharing for pair programming work.
4. Everyone is busy and has their own personal biases and priorities, as applied to the workplace. To ensure everyone is moving in generally the same direction and aligned to the company goals and team goals, it's important to have accountability. Providing information in a written form which is traceable (email) helps drive accountability and provides everybody involved a point of reference to help them stay on task.
5. An email inbox can act as a rough to-do list / priority queue, and face-to-face conversations act as interrupts on that queue. While you might be "more effective" at getting the things you care about done by talking to people face-to-face, you're doing so at the expense of other things they could be spending their time on which may be higher in the priority queue for the organization. What is most important to you personally within work context may not be the most important thing to the company. Forcing a face to face conversation is taking advantage of the rules of etiquette to manipulate the priority queue.
Just a few things to take into account. I think every work environment is different, and it is also easy for us to be biased into a belief that the most effective thing for ourselves is the most effective thing for the organization. This isn't necessarily the case. Often an organization gains net efficiency by using less efficient processes at an individual level which scale more effectively and have inherent checks and balances for accountability, and email is one such case. There is a reason why email is so prolific, basically irreplaceable, and hasn't really been dethroned since it become commonplace.
Please check and revise the priority of Redmine issue (#455) that I have created.
I noticed that there are many logs for blabla the last few days and I don't think that it is normal.
I believe the problem is the updated version of gem blabla.
Feel free to change its priority in case blabla.
* Check issue (from the above example)
* Giving you a routine update (no action required from receipient besides reading the email)
* Set a meeting (receipient needs to determine when they are free to discuss the why of the email)
* Give me permission to do X
This has helped me when there are multiple things that have to be done. I now usually send several messages rather than one, with one task per email. In the cases that is not practical, I make it clear in the subject that there are several things to be done, and the body starts with a list of all the tasks.
- because we don't want to offend some direct recipients
"We see a future using efficient automation techniques to improve shareholder value"
"we are firing the expensive useless third of staff"
- because we don't know the current opinion of people on the list
"We should investigate the options"
"We are all agreed we should use the new design so let's do that"
- we are not sure who the decision maker actually is, or if this is even a problem
All of the above may come off as lack of confidence / inability to write clearly but generally it is awareness of difficult social situations that if not handled well would derail the ultimate outcome - in short just because people are not writing "hard charging go getting emails" does not mean they are ineffective - perhaps they are more effective than the bull in a china shop
Also when you work across cultures you need to adjust your tone/approach. As a German working with French coworkers, it took me a while to figure this out.
What examples come up the most, or had the most impact on you figuring it out?
In my mind, order serves no purpose, so requiring it is purely egotistical. That being said, overly egotistical people aren't exactly a rarity in the business world. And the minute _one_ person says it matters, other people start thinking it does too (because someone else might see it that way, and it reflects on them).
I just could not figure out how to write code and distribute it in outlook ... not that I tried hard
Also "cc" is rarely used where I worked and was mostly then used to inform the people in cc about the issue, they aren't required to do something.
Germans need a clear plan/path, how to get from A to B, with concrete steps that need to be taken. If no such plan is in place, the uncertainty makes us feel uncomfortable. We also need to know who is responsible for what, who is the point of contact for which problem and who will/can decide what. That should ideally be clarified in project kickoff meetings. Meetings in general must have an agenda, the goal and which questions must be answered must be clear. This also drives who should attend the meeting.
French not so much. They are totally fine with not having a detailed plan. They just start with the work. They feel/think that "things will get sorted out when the time comes" and "someone will do it" or "someone will remember to bring the item to the meeting". To them we Germans are way to much stressed out about the plan and project structure. Meetings will be announced where there is no clear agenda, the goal is just "to align everybody" which often results in an unproductive mess.
For a long time I thought that our product management just did not have their shit together, that it was always chaotic, with change of plans on short notice, not giving a headsup on important topics and information getting lost in the shuffle or not reaching the right person etc.
Their communication style is also more indirect, not confronting people/issues in meetings, but rather sit in silence through it and then later complain/being irritated about what happened in the meeting.
A year ago I was lucky to pick the brain of an much older Begium high profile project lead (from a completely different company/field) who had worked a lot with French and German teams on many different projects. He said he preferred working with German over French teams and roughly described what I was experiencing.
Then it dawned on me, that this is not incompetance, this is just how they operate. I talked with my french manager about that and he was like "yeah totally", he outright said that he loves it when the plan is fuzzy and the scope is unclear.
From there on I saw many things through a much more understanding lens and respected their way of doing things. (For example, where we might overthink and over analyse stuff, they just start and get shit done. Or where we stress out about defining in detail processes and responsibilies, they also "just do it".) And actions (or inactions) that sometimes lead to (for us unexplainable) friction became clearer to me. I also realized, that you cannot change the people (and their working style). You have to adapt to it and compensate for the things that bother you (ask for an agenda, ask who will explicitly do what or better just do it yourself, bring the items yourself, etc).
x has broken
dev is on lunch
wait for dev to return from lunch and request investigation and thoughts on fix
@dev finish lunch;
@teamlead inform @dev when returned from lunch;
@dev investigate problem and report to @teamlead;
@teamlead update @me on progress;
@me inform clients on issue
@me setup meeting to discuss potential fixes with @teamlead & @dev.
have a good lunch everyone
It's the easiest way to aid speed reading/allowing mental prose-to-bullet point conversion.
For me it's a sign of respect for time of the reader who is likely overwhelmed with information and wants to focus on the most important parts.
I've written some technical documents this way. In one company I got explicit email that this helped a lot and was great idea. Implementation that followed went smoothly.
In other company it has been seen as silly, all emphasis was removed, bullet points expanded to prose, useless brochure like logos/typography added - of course I'm biased but this document stands in my head as the shittiest/least useful/confusing/verbose documents I had to deal with.
I think to really appreciate this approach you'd have to test it yourself on 50 page document and discover how fast you can digest 80% of information included.
Likely practicing speed reading will help to appreciate it more.
It's a bit like medium highlights - but it's designed by the author, it can be really, really useful, but it's niche and very rare to see unfortunately.
I can’t control the reader, only my writing, so I’ll switch to italics or even monospace (I’ll test both)
I find it interesting that others may still perceive these differently than either of us.
Does anyone have any advice for improving on this front?
"My emails tend to be too long.
Does anyone have tips on writing concise emails?"
Obviously your post was not an email, so the additional, narrative context you provided is welcome. In emails you should aim to provide just the key info, and to elaborate on any context in other forms of communication/documentation. I typically try to aim for just 2 lines of content. One is a statement of fact or a problem, the other is a question or a 'call to action'. I break this rule often, but I always pause to think if there is really a good reason to stray from that rule or if I'm just ranting/chatting.
Often if people want context they'll come find you or call you.
> Frequent readers here know I write verbosely. I communicate clearly, but few people finish reading my messages. Any advice?
William Zinsser's book, On Writing Well, covers this topic. I recommend it.
This is the title of one of the chapters in “Writing without bullshit”, hilariously followed by the first paragraph: “Use fewer words”.
Other tips from the book:
* Edit everything
* Aim for a word count
* Say what you really mean
* Start boldly
* Organize relentlessly
* Prune sections and arguments
* Use bullets or tables
* Use graphics
* Trim connective tissue
* Delete weasel-words and qualifiers
"Omit needless words! Omit needless words! Omit needless words!"
13. Don't be repetitious; don't repeat the same thing twice; repeating is superfluous (redundancy means the useless explanation of something the reader has already understood).
* Look at the emails you receive that you feel do a good job of being concise. What do they have in common? What do you do differently from those emails? Start applying those differences when you write emails.
* Look at the emails you receive that you feel don't do a good job of being concise, or are confusing otherwise (perhaps they're too concise). Open the email in an editor and make changes until you eliminate the problem areas. Can you make similar changes in your own emails?
As a more concrete example, I originally had this text in the above paragraph:
> Open the email in an editor and make the changes you would want to see until you see the email you wished you received
I then revised it to:
> Open the email in an editor and make changes until you eliminate the problem areas.
In this and other cases, messages can be improved with better handling of the sentence's subject(s), tense, etc.
I think the Blaise Pascal quote about not having the time is relevant; making things concise takes more effort, particularly if you are not already in the habit of doing so already. Start with your communication, remove redundant or unnecessary words, then think about ways to compact things down even further by removing or rephrasing sentences.
Going through "Elements of Style" by Strunk & White wouldn't hurt too.
Made me chuckle.
Taking your message on it's own, you have the ability to keep the message size small.
Keep to the point, avoid distraction, stay focused, replace three words with two where two will suffice, replace two words with one where fitting. Omit needless words, make each word count.
When reading what you've written, find the core of what you're really trying to say. Find the sentence or couple of sentences that conveys this core. Then see if the other sentences are really needed, removing those that aren't, tweaking the core as you go along.
Repeat until you feel it can no longer be distilled further.
A bunch of people used it, but not a single one managed to change the subject line to describe what their email is actually about. Not one.
> Short version: all-hands meeting to discuss painting of the bike shed, Thu 1 Aug @ 14:30 in the board room. There will be cookies.
> Long version:
> <more details>
I also tend to first jot down a draft of the "long version", then edit it for clarity and brevity, then write the "short version" last.
Edit: I find HN formatting weird sometimes.
After a while, the same color pattern is emerging from customer communication.
While I cringe at the majority of HTML email, this use case I find enormously valuable.
So, although I respect people wanting to have their own pets and take care of them, I (and many others) think it is tasteless to project this affinity to others in a professional setting.
The thing is, it's not an actual cat/dog. It's not going to get dander or slobber or parasites on you. I just scroll past and forget about it.
The word limit will stop the mind dump and make you be precise with the focus on reaching a goal.
Some more unpopular ideas:
* A discussion would have follow up limits. Time or number. No month long threads, or 100 replies in half hours. Beyond a limit, it will automatically schedule a meeting for in person discussion to conclude on decisions
* email quotas - you can only send n emails within m hours to p persons
But for technical communication where you're using names of things that have a controlled vocabulary, it's really helpful to put those words in a bold mono-space font. Otherwise, you end up using quotes too much and that gets tiresome.
I said this as a personal opinion; no idea how widespread that is. Boldface strikes me as a lack of respect for the reader. An adult reader is supposed to read the whole text. If there is non-important information, please omit it.
The idea if writing a short sentence at the beginning summarizing the action to take is sound, however. It is even better if it appears in the subject of the message.
Yeah, that's bullshit. Open any CS book on your shelf and you'll see different fonts, different sizes, different weights, different background colors, etc. Those books are not written for kids, they're written for adults—for professionals. The goal of a writer is to control the reading process; changing what the text looks like is one way to do that.
We separate the text into paragraphs to delineate different ideas, but also to space out the text and give the reader a chance to breathe. We organize points into bullet points because they're easy to spot, easy to scan, and we don't need to make the text longer by adding flow between each point. We sometimes use frames and a darker background for summaries, auxiliary information, etc. to show that it's not part of the main text. We use large letters to identify different chapters and sections. We use a monospaced font for code examples. We write technical terms in italics when we first introduce them and want to highlight that fact to the reader.
There are a multitude of ways in which we format text so that readers can better follow. Bold is just one extra tool in that arsenal. Don't abuse it, but don't forbid it entirely either.
I wish to work in the utopia that is your office if this is even slightly true in practice.
I tend to emphasize not a lot in emails where a reader that's skimming might skip the not and get the opposite of the impression that I intended.
Good: "Any avail. tomorrow Tues. 12/2?"
Combine actual dates AND relative ones. Days of week help.
Bad: "Millie Smith"
Good: "Millie Smith asst. dir. new hire"
Good: "work from home - Tuesday planned power outage"
Good: "2Q19 sales dept. new business report"
Bad: "canceled meeting"
Good: "Wed. 4/3 sales meeting canceled"
That's most peoples' attention span for email.
I only write longer emails when someone asks me a question; such as when a manager asks me to research and root cause something. Even then, I usually try to follow the 3-line rule, then put a ----, and then the longer email.
BTW: When I get a very loooong email, sent directly to me, I don't read it. I will usually reply with something like, "I don't read long emails" and suggest that the author find time to meet with me directly.
Everyone you suggested that to thinks you are a dick. They spent half an hour or more writing just so you can absorb the information asynchronously at your convenience rather than having to schedule yet-another meeting and take notes -- and then you want to waste another half-hour of their time because you can't be bothered reading.
I guess it's just my company's culture but it's always been assumed that people will not check or respond to email promptly, so project-related information should not be communicated that way.
We have many 12 hour day shift and 12 hour night shift projects that are running 24/7.
Using the exact date you are referencing, using military time along with timezone has been invaluable.
We are moving the security clearance fingerprinting to be held next Friday, August 9th at 14:30 EST"
Just following up on the RFI we submitted yesterday, July 31st at 13:30 EST. Were you able to review?"
This also helps when having to hold people accountable for not responding fast enough when you include timestamps.
How can you make emails seem like a gift? That's how I approach it when I write my best ones.
e.g., instead of Background, have "Huge increase in log messages". Instead of "Cause of the problem" have "Caused by bug in external library". That way, if people only read the headings, they still get a useful understanding of the issue immediately.
I’m afraid it will looks like I think the recipients are stupid or something.
But seeing it’s a good advice will change my view on that (I tend to write long emails)
Easiest way to do it - write it dead last.
Write your email in this order:
1. Body of email
2. Formatting: fix the paragraphs, bold/underline, create headers if longer piece
3. Subject line
Still i constantly receive mails that are not descriptive enough. If there are IDs to change requests, deploys etc, why don't you put that ID in the subject so it's easy to get to it later?!
I tend to not decorate and encourage people to read the whole thing.
Less is better.
For pity sake don't send a picture of a log or an error dump..... send the text.
With tears in my eyes.
I see too many people write long emails, both in total word count and in word count per paragraph. Then they wonder why it takes someone 1-2 weeks to respond.
Unless you're working in an environment that thrives on them, such as academia, a long email creates a significant cognitive burden on someone who is probably trying to context switch as fast as possible. Combine it with a lack of clear action for the reader -- "What are your thoughts?", for example -- and you will find your emails left indefinitely on their "too hard" pile.
Yes, it's 2019 and I'm still in favour of plaintext emails. Sorry.
At worst it looks like plain text with a few _ and * characters sprinkled around, it has beautiful clean HTML output and some terminals support italic and bold fonts; win/win/win.
Pity that boat has long since sailed.
# example heading
You can add emphasis with asterisk or _underscores_.
Links can be done with  tags
And as an alternative, nothing stops you from using Markdown syntax in plaintext emails for adding structure like (nested) bullet lists.
I noticed that there are many logs for blabla the last few days and I don't think that it is normal. I believe the problem is the updated version of gem blabla.
I have opened an issue describing the case in Redmine (#455) in the current version.
Feel free to change its priority in case blabla.
My point is that the above piece of conversation happening over an email is super slow and backwards. Lazarus should just be able to talk to the group directly which a platform like Slack or Teams makes possible.
The bold/non-bold text, email not balanced and too long paragraphs mixing numbers and letters makes me wanna vomit, not because it's disgusting but more like when you read in a car.
I agree with links though.
- Keep it "concise", "ascribed", and "specific". By concise, avoid irrelevant details; by ascribed, write necessary data even though it's obvious but saves time for the reader by not having to look up, i. e., complete date mm-dd-yy instead of yesterday/tomorrow, links for references; by specific, avoid ambiguity, separate lines for each required query.
- Use proper text formatting, i.e, <bold> important texts, wrap links with titles.
- Divide long email into separate paragraphs, each can contain its subject. i.e., the way most SaaS services publishes postmortem about an outage or vulnerability.
Note: I've read many articles on writing good emails, this article focuses on the technical team, which in itself follows its guidelines.