How to Reply to Emails Without Cluttering Up Threads

Joel Lee 08-04-2016

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 The 5 Best Free Email Clients for Your Desktop PC Want the best free email client? We've compiled the best email software for Windows, Mac, and Linux that won't cost you a dime. Read More  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 How Writing Amazing Emails Can Further Your Career Sending professional emails gives an intangible boost to your online (and offline) reputation. The ultimate yardstick of artful emailing is if you can bag a job or land a gig with just an impressive email.... Read More  and how to create the perfect email signature 7 Tips for Creating the Perfect Professional Email Signature We've written a lot about how to email like a pro, but one aspect that's regularly overlooked is the email signature. Here's how to set up the perfect professional email signature. Read More . Both of these can go a long way towards reducing your email-sending anxiety 5 Tips for Ending Your Email Sending Anxiety Internet etiquette can be a touchy subject, and although I don't consider myself the Miss Manners of the world wide web, I try my best to be courteous with how I act online. Granted, I'm... Read More .

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

Related topics: Declutter, Email Tips, meta-mainmar2020.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Tom
    April 9, 2016 at 12:11 am

    What about Outlook?