How To Reply To Emails Without Cluttering Up Threads

Whether you’re working in an office or planning an event with a handful of friends, it’s easy for email threads to veer out of control — and even easier for replies to start looking cluttered and unwieldy as previously quoted replies pile on top of each other.

It’s especially bad when you’re replying to a specific part of a massive email because the other participants may not know what you’re talking about without a bit more context. This can also be a problem in ongoing one-on-one conversations, but to a lesser degree.


So here’s a wonderful trick you can use the next time you reply to an email: highlight the text you want to reply to before clicking the Reply button.

Usually when you click Reply, your email client probably quotes everything from the email you’re replying to and places your response above it. If you use the trick we just mentioned, however, it will only quote the text that you highlighted — which drastically reduces the amount of text clutter.

This feature is available in Apple Mail, Thunderbird, Postbox, and even the web version of Gmail as long as you enable the Labs feature called “Quote selected text”. Most other modern email clients will likely support this useful feature as well, but please let us know if there are any that don’t.

And while we’re at it, check out these rules for writing better emails and how to create the perfect email signature. Both of these can go a long way towards reducing your email-sending anxiety.

What are your best tips for email etiquette? What are your worst email pet peeves? How do you deal with thread clutter? Tell us about it in the comments!

Image Credit: Email From Computer via Shutterstock

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