Don't Send Email Messages Full of >>>

One of my email pet peeves is to receive a message from someone and it’s chocked full of carets (<>>>). With some Web-based email solutions, messages you reply to might end up with them. Clean that mess up before you send it on to someone else!

Here’s how step by step, and I’ve added a video below.

In Outlook 2007, use the Find and Replace command to find carets and replace all of them with nothing.

  1. Select the text in the email message that’s infested with the carets.
  2. Press and hold down your Ctrl key and type H (Ctrl+H).
  3. In the Find what box, type >. Leave the Replace with box empty (to replace > with nothing).
  4. Click Replace All, OK.

If you end up with blank spaces at the beginning of each line, the following trick will eliminate it.

  1. Select all the text you just changed.
  2. Press Ctrl+E to center it, then press Ctrl+L to left-align it. All extra spaces will be gone.

If you wouldn’t send a letter on your company stationery infested with junky characters, then don’t do it in email.

Here’s a How-To Video



I LOVE Email Campaign Kicks Off October 1st

Email gets a bum rap. People complain about it all the time. It’s not email that’s the problem, but rather bad email habits and management. Think about all the good it does and the time it saves.

The I LOVE EMAIL CAMPAIGN will consist of a series Webinars (on Mondays), workshops (on Tuesdays), and media interviews conducted by Peggy Duncan, email overload expert and author of Conquer Email Overload with Better Habits, Etiquette, and Outlook 2007. Peggy, who is a time management expert, will also travel around the country speaking at conferences and training business professionals.

I cannot imagine managing my time or my life without the wonders of email. How do you feel about it? I hear a lot of bum statements about it. The next time you complain about email, think about where you’d be without it. It has many benefits such as the following.

  • Eliminates phone tag. You can say everything you need to say in an email message and not have to worry about someone leaving out important details.
  • Reaches volumes of people quickly. Everyone will get the same message and be on the same page.
  • Establishes a “paper” trail. No need to worry about recipients having convenient amnesia. You have the proof in writing.
  • Connects it with your calendar, tasks, and contacts. Move a message from the Inbox to where it needs to be with a click of a button or the flick of the mouse.

Campaign Kicks Off October 1st!

Reduce the Load with Better Management
If email overload is a problem, reduce the load. Get into a meeting with your Inbox, clean it out, send people what they need, and move the messages to where they need to be.

  • Eliminate junk email so you’re only managing legitimate mail.
  • Redirect messages with rules based on content, origin, and importance.
  • Categorize messages and view them in batches with one click.
  • Remember to do the work using flags, Tasks, and the Calendar.
  • File the ones you need to keep. Clean out that mess that’s already there.
    Stop using your Inbox for long-term storage and keep it to one screen.

Your Inbox is not a to do list for unfinished work, tickler file that reminds you of work, calendar with meeting notices and reminders, database for addresses and phone numbers, or filing system for unfinished projects.

Improve Your Email Culture with Better Habits
Developing better email habits will help improve email management. Ask people around you for a list of their email pet peeves…things you do in email that ticks them off. Pay attention to what they say do better. Avoid doing the following.

  • Sending or responding to all when all do not need to know.
  • Trying to solve complex issues instead of picking up the phone.
  • Not matching the subject line to the message. I should know exactly what your message is about by looking at the subject line. Would you send a letter on your company letterhead that reads RE: ABC and then proceed to discuss DEF?
  • Sending one word email replies that say “thanks.” Thank them in advance when you send the initial request.

Don’t Just Upgrade Your Software: Learn How to Use It Too
Training is the first thing to go when the economy dips when it should be expanded. You’ll work more efficiently and make fewer mistakes. Without the proper training, you’re taking hours to do something you can finish before you blink.

Change your habits, your culture, and how you manage email and learn to love it more every day. Visit for details on training.

Want Training?
Download my


Improve Email Etiquette and Reduce Email Overload

Improve messages you send
and reduce email overload.

For years, I’ve been helping people improve how they manage email. Whether they’re in my class or if they’ve sent me a message that needs improving, I’m always willing to offer my advice…whether they asked for it or not. I even wrote a book about it.

Every day, I receive at least one email message that makes me shake my head. If you improve your email habits, that will reduce your email overload.

My Top Three Email Pet Peeves

Here are my top three email pet peeves with a link to more. Pay attention to these, stop doing what you’re doing, and manage email better.

Reply to All to CYA (cover your butt). Stop sending to all if all do not have a need to know. You wanted to make sure you were covered so you’re sending everyone on a list your answer—whether they needed to know or not. Or you’re sending a message to everyone because you’re too lazy to select the appropriate recipients.

Don’t match subject lines to the message. Don’t pull up an old message, hit Reply, and send me a message that has nothing to do with the previous one. Suppose you sent an email message two months ago that said, “The monthly meeting has been cancelled.” You pulled up that old message because the email addresses were already in it. But this time, you wanted to let everyone know that coffee and donuts would be served at this month’s meeting. At the very least, change the subject line!

Send one-liners. You know those silly messages that say “Thanks.” You sent an email message to 25 people and 15 of them sent you a one-liner. Next time put “No Reply Necessary” at the top and at the bottom of your message. And when you send an email asking for something, add “Thanks in advance” so you won’t feel compelled to send a one-liner later.

Read the entire list of email pet peeves here on my Website.


State Department's "Reply to All" Email Nightmare Needs Better Solutions

Well, well, well, I see a “Reply to All” nightmare hit the State Department and was caused by an email message being sent to thousands of email addresses that were exposed on the To line. The mess that almost crushed the email system happened when the employees clicked Reply to All to answer the email instead of clicking Reply to respond only to the sender. This happens all the time.

Before I wrote my book, Conquer Email Overload with Better Habits, Etiquette, and Outlook 2003, I did an informal survey in my classes asking about email pet peeves. By far, people using Reply to All was the number one habit that ticked attendees off (enjoy my list of 27 Email Pet Peeves that Tick People Off as Much as SPAM on my Website).

To prevent this from happening again (according to the Associated Press), the State Department sent a notice to employees warning them of unspecified disciplinary actions if they  did it again.

This is not a solution folks. People are human and no matter how many times you tell them this, they could slip.

Here are my solutions that will work better. I use Outlook 2003 and hope you’ll be able to do this if you use something different.

Remove the “Reply to All” toolbar button. Open a message you’ve received and hold down the Alt key while you click and drag the Reply to All button down off the toolbar.

Remove the “Reply to All” command from the menu. Click the Tools menu, Customize. With the Customize dialog box open, click the Actions menu (not inside the Customize box, but on the toolbar as you normally would) and drag the Reply to All command off the menu.

Disable the “Reply to All” command. In Outlook, you can disable this command for internal communications only. Here is an article that shows you how to create a macro that will do this (be sure to read through all of the questions and comments).

Alter the “Reply to All” command. Have a programmer alter the Reply to All macro and add a box that pops up with “Are You Sure.” This will make you think twice before you let the message go.

You can add any items back later if you decide to.

If you don’t want to remove commands, consider doing one or more of the following.

Use blind copy (Bcc). You can protect the privacy of everyone’s email address if you simply send the email to yourself and Bcc everyone else. That way if anyone clicks Reply to All, the response will only go to the originator.

If you don’t see the Bcc option when you create a new message, click the View menu, Bcc (if you use Outlook as your email editor). If you use Outlook but use Word as your editor, click Options, Bcc. (Use Bcc whether you remove your command buttons or not so everyone’s privacy is respected.)

Send a message to Undisclosed Recipients. I wrote a previous post on how to send an email addressed to Undisclosed Recipients (which works the same as Bcc).

Complete the To line last. When I’m composing an email message, I write it, attach everything, complete the subject line, then address it. I don’t want to make the mistake of clicking Send before I’m ready.

Create a 2-minute rule. Every message I send stays in my Outbox for two minutes before it goes. This gives me a small window to change it if I need to. (This was created using an Outlook Send rule.)

It’s important to use care when you’re crafting your messages. So slow down for a minute and think it through.


Related Posts
How to Send an Email Addressed to Undisclosed Recipients
Clearing Unwanted Email Addresses that Pop Up

Peggy Duncan, Personal Productivity Expert

Clean up junky looking email messages

Junky email messages are the ones you receive loaded with those darn carets (>>>).

Don’t forward a message like this without cleaning it up first. You can get rid of carets by pasting the message into Word and using the Find and Replace feature to find carets and replace all of them with nothing.

  1. Copy the text from an email message, and Paste it into Word.
  2. Press Ctrl+H.
  3. In the Find what box, type >. Leave the Replace with box empty (to replace > with nothing).
  4. Click Replace All, OK.

Now remove the blank spaces at the beginning of each line that occurred when you removed the carets.

  1. Select all the text (press Ctrl+A).
  2. Press Ctrl+E to center it, then press Ctrl+L to left-align it. All extra spaces will be gone.
  3. Copy and paste the text back into the email message.

Note: If you’re using Outlook with Word set as your email editor, you can do all this in the body of the email. I use Outlook as my editor.