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Sep 14, 2009

Please, Skip the Fancy Fonts in Your Email

by Eric Smith — last modified Sep 15, 2009 09:14 PM

Email should be used to add value, not to express your personality

While working at a large client, I received an email from the client's IT outsourcing vendor. The vendor is a Fortune 20 company, and this type of outsourcing is an important component of their business. The email was about a failed disaster recovery test, and it contained important, time sensitive information.

Confusing Papyrus textBut here's the thing: I could hardly read the email because someone on the vendor's technical staff decided to use the Windows Papyrus font (and in purple, no less). And this isn't just for the signature, it was for the entire body of the email, which included hostnames, IP addresses, time windows, and other detailed technical information.

Not only is Papyrus considered a joke among font enthusiasts, but among its other faults, you can't easily distinguish the sequence "O_" (capital-O, underscore) from "Q" (capital-Q). And this email had many capital-Q's in it, and a capital-O underscore.

The only purpose of emails between this vendor and our client is to convey technical information. And their employee's use of Papyrus served only to diminish the value of that information. I ended up taking a few minutes to copy this text into a text editor just so I could change the font and understand what the vendor was trying to say.

Please, don't let this happen to you. Don't be cute at the expense of being professional. Every communication from you should have the goal of succinctly conveying business information and value.