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Ask Daphne! About email formatting

Jean writes

I have an email formatting question for your blog. Many agents want writers to send writing samples (synopsis, first few chapters) along with their query. Seeing as there are a variety of different email programs out there that see things like tabs and italics differently, is there a ‘standard’ or some advice that you can give for those of us who want to have our samples come out looking lovely (and readable) on the agent’s end? For example, should I use italics? Should I use tabs at the beginning of my paragraphs, or is there something that I can do that is guaranteed to come out right on the other end, will look good and make sense to the agent?

Jean, I really should turn this question over to Rexroth, who’s my go-to guy for technical questions. But as he’s temporarily unavailable, I’d say you’re safest not using ANY formatting.
Now, this goes for materials included within the email itself, not speaking of attachments. For those, go crazy, go nuts! (Ok, not too nuts.) But within an email, you never known what someone’s system is going to do. I use Gmail for most of my emails, and there’s a simple button to use “plain formatting” rather than rich text. I think Outlook has something similar.
It won’t look as pretty as you might wish, but it won’t look bizarre either.

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