Quoting Text In Mail Replies

When you reply to a message in Mail, you can quote the original message to make your reply clearer. You can quote the entire message, but it usually make more sense to only quote a portion of it. You can also edit the quotes and place your reply between portions of quoted text. Learning how to use quoting properly can help you send more concise, clear and professional email replies.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Quoting Text In Mail Replies.

Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. On today's episode let's talk about using the Quoting feature when replying to messages in Mail.

So what is Quoting? Quoting is when you have an email message, like this one here, and you hit Reply and you can see in the message that you are composing that the previous message is included there and usually it's indented or colored in some way. That is a quote. You are quoting what was in the previous message so that you can reply to it and your reply makes sense.

But if you learn a few things you can make this feature even more useful. Let's go to Preferences in Mail first and look at some of the options you've got with Quoting.

Under Composing here you can see there is a few things that have to do with responding. One is to turn on quotes which is this option here. Another is to increase the quote level. Some people like this and some people don't. If you are playing back and back forth and back and forth with somebody this will keep increasing it so you can see what was said last time, what was said the time before that, etc.

Also, this one is a very useful thing. You can determine whether or not you want to quote the entire message automatically or have the option of selected text and only quote the select text. I'm going to show you this.

Under Signatures there is a very useful function here of being able to place the signature above the quoted text or if this is turned off it is below the quoted text.

So in Mail if you hit reply you will get a message like this where it quotes the entire thing. Now it would be more useful is to not quote both the top part here and the signature. It is kind of redundant because I've already know who this message is coming from. It would be nice just to quote the message. The way you can do that is by selecting the text before you hit reply.

I'm going to select just the sentence here, like that. It just takes a second. I'm not going to select the bottom part here and I'm going to hit Reply. You can see here the result is I only get that portion that I have selected. It is much nicer especially when you have a ton of texts to reply to.

So, for instance, I have a second message here and you can see there is a long message and I'm going to reply to this but I don't want to reply to everything. There is a question here. Say this sentence here in the sample text is the question that I want to reply to. So I'm going to select it first and then hit reply. So you can see here it only included that one sentence.

Now when I answer the question with a simple yes or no or something like that the person doesn't have to figure out what it is I am replying to. I'm replying to this question here.

That's also where that Preference here under Signatures comes in handy to place the signature above the quoted text or below the text. Some people like it to be below the quoted text down here. Some people like to have their message here separated from the rest of it. So you can decide which one of those you like. Try them both out to see how they look with your signature and how it makes sense in the reply that you are giving.

Now say you hit Reply here and you haven't selected anything. It is just going to quote everything in this message. Well, you can still go and edit what's here afterwards. You don't have to include all of this. This is all editable text. So you can, for instance, take out some paragraphs that you don't need.

In addition to that you can actually type your new text inside of this quoted text. The way to do that would be simply to insert, put your cursor right there, and then insert some lines. You can see how that this portion is not quoted. So you can see how you can reply in line here and the quoting makes it clear as to what the person said and then what your replying. It helps if you add a little extra spacing. Kind of pay attention to how the message looks.

It also helps then if you cut down on what's there. You can delete portions of what's there. You can leave other portions in place. I encourage everybody to spend a lot of time working with their messages like this because when you do you make it clearer what you are trying to say in your reply. You are giving the other person less to read. If they can just quickly read what is here and then see your response rather than having to reread everything they wrote. It may have been a few days since they wrote the original message. So it is worth going and working with this.

Also notice that you can actually adjust the amount of quoting here. So this is a single level of quoting. I can actually change the quote level and you can see here the menu items but you can use Command and apostrophe and Option Command apostrophe. So I can increase the quote level there or decrease it here. I can do this with anything.

So I can actually clear this message out and type my own thing and if I want to make this quoted I can do Command and apostrophe and you can see I made it quoted there. So you can actually create your own quoted things there. It helps also for Copy and Paste if there is a document somebody wrote and sent to you and you want to reply to them in email. You can Copy and Paste and then indent that with the Command apostrophe to quote it making your response a little clearer as to what you are responding to.

Sometimes you end up with a message like this. Just a massive message here with lots of different quote levels. Maybe you've gone back and forth and there are several different people included in this. It really does help to go through and clean it up. Just take out the portions that you want and reply only to a bit that is here and just delete the rest. You can see how it makes it clearer as to what is going on here. Remember that that person probably has all the previous correspondence between you and them so they probably don't need to see it all again. They just want an answer, maybe, to a single questions.

So definitely thing about this every time you reply to an email and try to keep from sending a cluttered email. Especially if it is a professional email say to somebody you are applying to a job for, or a teacher at school, or somebody you work with you want to be clear and concise in your communication and quoting is a great tool for helping with that as long as you use it correctly.

Comments: One Response to “Quoting Text In Mail Replies”

    martin kelinsky
    5 years ago

    Thanks — I was not aware of highlighting a portion first — I will now certainly use it because previously I quoted all text and manually removed parts.

Comments Closed.