Email Reply Etiquette: How Do You Reply Inline To Someone’s Email? [ASK MR. NOOBIE]

Feature | Email Reply Etiquette: How Do You Reply Inline To Someone’s Email? [ASK MR. NOOBIE]
Here’s email etiquette to remember: reply inline. Learn what it is, how to do it, and more tips on how to reply to an email correctly in this post.

In this article:

  1. How Do You Reply to an Email? Use Inline
  2. What Does Respond “Inline” Mean?
  3. How to Send an Email Inline
  4. What to Do When Sending an Email to Multiple Recipients
  5. More Email Etiquette Tips to Remember

 

Email Etiquette | Here’s the Best Way to Send a Reply

 

How Do You Reply to an Email? Use Inline

Question: What is the email etiquette when sending emails? I get email replies from people who put their answers right below each question. How do they do that? – Michael R from Danville, California

Answer: Proper email reply etiquette is to include a response inline when the original email is in question form. When I send an email with three questions, it drives me crazy when they reply to only two. I think it’s because they don’t know how to do what I am asking. They’re most likely hitting the reply button. Then they’re writing their answers in paragraph form just like any other email reply. Whether for personal or business emails, it’s a good idea to practice how to reply inline.

What Does Respond “Inline” Mean?

What Does Respond "Inline" Mean? | Email Reply Etiquette: How Do You Reply Inline To Someone’s Email? [ASK MR. NOOBIE]

You have different options on how to send an email reply, and one of these is the inline reply. It works really well when your content has questions. An inline response means you answer them within the same body of the email.

To understand how it works and why it’s great email etiquette, let’s have an example. Let’s say we have two work colleagues, Mark and John. Mark invites the other to lunch. The personal email may sound something like this:

Hey, John, I had some questions I wanted to ask you:

1. Do you want to go out to lunch with me tomorrow?

2. What’s your favorite type of pizza?

3. You’re paying this time, right?

When you don’t respond inline, it may end up like this:

Mark,
Lunch tomorrow sounds great! Let’s keep it simple and get a pepperoni pizza.

Notice how John conveniently forgot to answer query #3? The more efficient way is to answer each right below the question. It looks something like this:

Mark,
See my answers below…

On Fri, Nov 9, 2018 at 9:25 AM, Mark wrote:

Hey John, I had some questions I wanted to ask you:

1. Do you want to go out to lunch with me tomorrow?
Lunch tomorrow sounds great!

2. What’s your favorite type of pizza?
Let’s keep it simple and get a pepperoni pizza.

3. You’re paying this time, right?
You bet! You paid last time so it’s my turn.

How to Send an Email Inline

Sending an inline reply is not difficult at all. When you click “Reply” on an email, the original message is just below it. You can move your cursor anywhere in the original email and edit it.

Going back to the example above, and to add to my answer to question #1, place your cursor at the end of the sentence. Then hit “Enter” a few times on your keyboard. This will give you some space to enter your response directly below the question. Rinse and repeat for the rest of the queries.

What to Do When Sending an Email to Multiple Recipients

What to Do When Sending an Email to Multiple Recipients | Email Reply Etiquette: How Do You Reply Inline To Someone’s Email? [ASK MR. NOOBIE]

Replying inline is an excellent strategy when you’re working on follow-up emails. Here’s a question, though: What will you do if the sender delivers the email to many recipients? How do you make yours stand out?

First, never forget one of the basic email etiquette rules: avoid hitting “Reply to All,” especially if you intend to talk to only one person. It can clog everybody’s inbox, and nobody needs to read all the messages. This rule applies whether you’re sending a personal or professional email.

Second, you have different ways to highlight your reply. Some people will add a little flair to the response. Here are some examples:

  • Put your inline reply in a bold typeface (like I did in the example above).
  • Use a color such as red.
  • It’s also common to add the greater-than symbol (>) to serve as a guide to the question or the answer.

Your response depends on your email programs and whether you’re replying from a desktop or a mobile device. You’ll need to look for a style toolbar that lets you do this. If you can’t see it, you might not have it enabled. Go through your email settings to change it.

Once it is enabled, you can highlight your answer to each question with your mouse. Then, click the appropriate style button on the toolbar (ex. the bold button) to change the style of your email reply.

Lastly, you can be explicit to the recipient. You can add lines such as “See my replies below” or “Please find my answers inline” before you answer the questions.

More Email Etiquette Tips to Remember

To further help you write a proper email, take note of these dos and don’ts:

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  1. Limit the use of emoticons, especially if your email is for business communication. They can change the tone of the email immediately. Your message can be subject to misinterpretation. Be careful when using special characters and symbols such as colons and parentheses. Your email software may also convert them into emoticons.
  2. If you can, add an email signature. Not everyone reads the email address of the sender. The signature can let the recipient know who’s responding to the letter.
  3. Do not reply to scam and chain letters or, worse, send them to your colleagues at work.
  4. Before you send an email, read it and check the spelling and grammar. You want to make sure your replies are clear.

Find out more about email etiquette in this video from NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development:

Email etiquette rules are there for a reason and everybody should work on improving their online communication. An inline reply ensures you can answer all questions and also assures the original sender that you are on the same page. We hope you’ve found these email etiquette tips helpful to assist you in improving your online communication.

What are the email etiquette rules you live by? Do you also use inline reply? Tell us in the comments section below!

Up Next: How To Block Emails On Gmail In 4 Easy Steps

 

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on April 26, 2013, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

Email Reply Etiquette: How Do You Reply Inline To Someone’s Email? [ASK MR. NOOBIE]
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2 Comments

  1. Nadine

    Thank you for your validation of the fact that inline is probably the easiest and most efficient way to reply to an email, and for your suggestion that boldfacing the replies or using a different color for them might help to make the replies stand out. I had been using inline replies for many years, since I first started using email back in the days of Prodigy and GEnie. But recently I’ve had correspondents complain that my inline replies made them have to read all the way through both their letters and mine for them to make sense.

    I’ve often felt like telling them that if reading through their own letters was such an onerous task, then maybe their letters are too long. But rather than losing all of my friends that way I began typing my entire replies at the beginning of my letters. Now I’m going to go back to replying inline, which is much easier, and I’ll either boldface the replies or use a different color.

    Once again your newsletter has contained something that will make my life easier and more pleasant. And once again, I thank you for doing it.

    Nadine

    Reply
  2. Patric Welch

    Nadine, thank you for your kind words. I loved your line, “if reading through their own letters was such an onerous task, then maybe their letters are too long”. I couldn’t agree more!

    Reply

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