Replying To Email

Email replies are usually informal, and often brief. You can reply to an email by selecting <ctrl>-r or the “reply” menu item. This action will do two useful things:

  • Automatically transfer the person’s email address into the “To:” field.
  • Automatically put a copy of the original email in the reply email, with a reply character such as “>” in front of each line (unless your client is configured not to do so).

For a detailed email, it is sometimes useful to annotate your reply inline next to each point requiring response, but on separate lines that don’t start with “>” so they can be identified as from you.

> With this tomato plant, how tall does it grow,
About 3 to 4 feet
> and can it take a lot of sun?
It loves sun, but doesn’t mind shade

Since many people get a lot of email, a general consensus has arisen across the Internet that you don’t have to reply to every email you get, especially in a business environment, unless a response is specifically requested or clearly required. A similar sort of consensus applies to personal email. Therefore, don’t take offense if your don’t get a response, because you don’t know how many dozens of other emails the addressee has received that same day.

When you do get a response, don’t be surprised if the reply is brief. The immediacy of email generates an informality of format, and very concise (even one word) replies are common.