Font plays a very important role in how we perceive written text. It can be the difference between plain and formal or fun and casual. If you’ve changed the font in your email client, you probably shouldn’t.
It’s tempting to put your personal touch on your emails with a hand-picked font and maybe even a unique color. After all, everyone else is just using the boring default settings, right? You’ll definitely stand out, but it might not be in the way you want.
Email Is the Wild West
Email is one of the last true universal standards we have left. Even phone numbers have been somewhat hijacked by Apple’s proprietary iMessage. But once you have an email address, you can basically send emails to any other email address.
It doesn’t matter if you use Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, or ProtonMail. You are free to email people no matter which provider they use. That’s actually pretty amazing when you think about it, especially when compared to how modern messaging apps work. However, it does cause some issues.
Formatting can sometimes be lost in translation. An email from one Gmail user to another will pretty much look fine, but what about Gmail to Outlook or vice versa? This can really become an issue when you’ve got threads going between multiple people on different providers.
Changing your font settings just accentuates this. You can change the font and formatting of your emails and there’s not much the recipient can do about that. Personalization is fun, but it can sometimes cause issues.
It’s My Inbox, Not Yours
Here’s the thing—I respect your personalization choices, but they are your personalization choices. Reading emails is not always fun and it’s worse if some of the emails come in with random fonts and colors.
I admit this is a strange situation. If you send a physical letter to someone you can choose the font and no one would care that much—unless you used Comic Sans. You may even write it in your own handwriting. An email feels different, though.
There’s something about an email in a quirky font that feels invasive. You take care of your inbox, keep it neat and tidy, and then here comes this email in purple Garamond font. What happened to my inbox? How’d this get in here?
Email is much more like instant messaging than physical mail and that comes with certain expectations. If you use Facebook Messenger, you expect messages to look a certain way. Even if you personally change the font on your device, that doesn’t mean the recipient sees that font.
Let’s Help Each Other Out
Look, there’s nothing stopping you from picking the most obnoxious font you can and changing the color to lime green. I think email would be a lot nicer if we all just kept the default settings, though.
Some fonts are not as easy to read as others. Colors may not display correctly on different screens. What if the recipient has a dark email theme? There are so many variables when it comes to email formatting.
Let’s all agree to keep things simple and keep our font choices to ourselves. Slowly but surely, we can make email a little better.
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