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Emails are a very important means of communication today. Millions of emails are sent and answered every day, so many people have to deal with 10, 20 or even more emails a day. This can take a lot of time. Therefore, you should follow some basic rules to make reading and answering mails easy and clear.

The following applies to all software instructions:

Always work with an alert mind.

Software and web services are constantly being updated, so the user interface, names for functions, etc. are changing. sometimes change.

If everything in a program you’re using doesn’t look exactly as described, just do some searching and consider which features most closely match what you want to do.

Request and answer

Often it is information that is exchanged by mail: someone wants to know something, the recipient sends the information back or answers the questions. In order for an answer to make sense, you need to know what the question is. In everyday conversation this is no problem – question and answer follow each other quickly. But with the e-mail there are at least a few hours, evtl. even days between question and answer

So what to do so that the recipient of the reply still knows what it was originally about – even if he sends and receives many emails a day?

It comes down to two important points:

Typical example

The following mail could be written by a student to a teacher:

A bad Answer could look like this:

The context of the original mail is completely lost. And although the mail is quite short, the answers *alone* don’t make much sense. In order for the student to be able to do something with these tips, he must search for his own mail and read it again.

This goes better. In an appropriate response quotes you put the important parts of the first mail, mark them as a quote (so that you know which part of the text comes from whom) and write the answers in the appropriate places in between, so that question and answer are directly opposite each other.

The angle brackets are a crucial part of this mail: you can tell by them that the parts of the text marked in this way originate from the original mail. Many e-mail programs convert the brackets into a colored marker or indent the text. This way you can also quote multiple times – each time an angle bracket is added so that all "quote levels" are clearly visible.

Here is an example of how this might look (however, each e-mail program formats the quotation levels differently).

Quoting correctly

If you z.B. would like to answer a mail at GMX, one clicks first on the appropriate link:

After that, the entire text of the original mail is in the new writing field and before each line an angle bracket was inserted. The cursor is at the top of an empty line.

Now you delete the parts of the mail that you do not refer to in your answer and then write your own text to the appropriate places.

Depending on your webmail provider or email program, this process may differ slightly from the one described here. However, the principle is always the same: the original text is taken over as a quotation and then shortened sensibly.

Set e-mail program/webmail service

Most e-mail programs and also many webmail providers (e.g.B. GMX or insert these brackets automatically when you click on replies. If this doesn’t work, you can set it manually (these screenshots are a bit older, the pages might look a bit different today, but the function should still be there).


When exchanging e-mails, you can save yourself and others a lot of time and effort if you quote properly. Of course, this is not necessary for all mails: if you z.B. If you only exchange a few lines between friends, you do not have to use the method described here every time.

However, when information is exchanged and it is important that the recipient understands everything as well and as quickly as possible, if an e-mail is to be sent, it might be a good idea to use the new writing field. even is sent back and forth several times, then correct citation is a big help for all parties involved.

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