1. Do not use colorful or themed email backgrounds, (i.e., notepaper, clouds).
2. Choose a simple, sans-serif font (good examples are Tahoma or Arial), and use 12 pt. type or larger. Avoid decorative fonts.
3. Color choice is important. Black on white is always best, but for those who prefer to “reply” in a different color, dark blue or green are also good choices.
4. Refrain from placing images in the body of an email. If you must, images should have alt text (note: this functionality is not possible in all email programs). It is better to attach image files with descriptive file names and information in the email about what is attached.
5. Don’t rely on colors, bold, italic, all caps, or other formatting tricks for emphasis. Instead, make your point with language, or organize the email with important information first.
6. Do not use unnecessary punctuation. For example, extra exclamation points, special characters *like this* for emphasis, lines of punctuation to mark a section break, wingdings, emoticons, etc., are all very confusing for screen readers.
7. When forwarding emails, take the time to reformat the email as if the message were coming from you. Make the subject line more meaningful, and delete the To/From forwarding header. If forwarding an attachment, describe the content of the attachment.
8. When including a URL in the body of an email, be sure to include the complete URL, including http://, for example, “visit the Syracuse University School of Education at http://soe.syr.edu.” Refrain from using hyperlink text such as “click here,” because in plain text, the link will not be active. Also, describe where the URL leads.
9. Keep your signature simple. Include essential content only, and avoid graphics and images. Do not use vCards.
10. Know your audience. The email you send to a distribution list of 300 individuals is very different from the email you send to 4 of your best friends, which is different still form the email you send to a single colleague which may be forwarded on to 20 of their colleagues. Be cautious.
Content Provided by: Syracuse University, School of Education