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I am getting really tired of getting emails and PowerPoint presentations in which half of the words are bold and underlined. There is also excessive use of exclamation points, all caps, and overly strong wording.

I would like to send them a link to someplace authoritative that states that their writing style is tacky. Is there anything like that out there? I would even settle for a blog post somewhere so long as it argues the point well.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

There is a website dedicated to business email etiquette called BusinessEmailEtiquette.com

It has a newsletter-type format that is both informative and fun to read:


Your email etiquette offenders might not mind being chided with a friendly note from you to go along with the link. ;-)

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This is a great answer! I especially like businessemailetiquette.com/112/is-this-shouting-too and businessemailetiquette.com/117/its-all-about-discretion Thanks a lot for pointing me in this direction. –  Nate Zaugg Oct 3 '12 at 7:22
My pleasure - best of luck, Nate! –  Kristina Lopez Oct 3 '12 at 19:56

The most-authoritative page I've seen on this topic is part of a style guide at Western Michigan University. It first points out that most of the recommendations in the guide “are consistent with AP style, which is the standard for the styleguides of most universities and for writing for the Web”, and later lists the following as errors to be avoided, because they create print and electronic publications that are unattractive and difficult to read:

• Capitalizing Common Nouns
• Underlining words to create emphasis
• Placing words within quotation marks “to create emphasis”
• Using bold face or italic type to create emphasis
• Concluding sentences with more than one exclamation point!!!!

A relevant blog entry (part 2 of a “Five Things That Really Annoy Me” article by “divine caroline” gives EMPHASIS!!! pride of place. It says

There is a reason this is number one [on list of annoyances] There is nothing more agonizing than reading something that is overemphasized [...] This is how it looks to the copy editor…

and then presents examples of egregious all-caps, bold, and underlining.

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