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Do you use indentation for readability?

Last updated by Brady Stroud [SSW] on 06 Jul 2022 07:54 am (about 14 hours ago) See History

Written communication can easily cause misunderstandings. Help the reader understand your message better by:

  • Using “>” and indentation when quoting the text from others, like the original email you are replying to, or a web page, etc.
  • Your new text should be kept to the left
  • Add numbers if the sender didn't and it is appropriate

This way you won't forget any questions in the original email.

Figure: Bad Example - there's too much information here

Figure: Good Example - You can clearly see the context of each part of the reply


  • When using Outlook, the raw “>” character may be automatically formatted to a “>” bullet point. This change is a problem because it may change to a normal bullet point after being sent. To prevent this issue, press Control+Z to turn it back into the raw “>” character.
  • For those using mobile devices the indentation function is not available, try instead using 3 spaces to indent manually.


When using Markdown (usually on GitHub), use a ">" symbol to achieve a similar result.

Figure: Indenting tasks in Markdown
Figure: How it looks

You can find more info about GitHub Markdown syntax at Basic writing and formatting syntax.

Video: Top 10+ Rules to Better Email Communication with Ulysses Maclaren

Note: Some people also use a different text color in their reply, but this is generally overkill

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