Every so often, someone sends me an email in Gmail that has bold, different typefaces and even colored text. So cool! How can I do this in my own email messages from Gmail?
Gmail has a lot of tricks somewhat hidden on the edges of the email compose window, actually. Problem is that you don’t have any way of knowing whether a recipient is using an email program that can display and properly render the formatting effects, whether they’re as simple as italicizing a word or a far more sophisticated layout and design with graphics, paragraph alignments and even Google’s weird, smooshed emoji.
That’s why a safe strategy is to use the formatting as supplemental until you ascertain that all the recipients on the list can differentiate and have it work properly. You can certainly imagine if you said “the names in red are those who still owe us money” that it could be stressful for someone who sees every name in black text!
Still, Gmail has so many ways to make your email look more cool. Let’s have a look.
First off, a standard email composition window (in a Web browser):
It’s the row of buttons along the bottom that you should be paying attention to, actually! From the left, there’s the Send button (obviously), followed by access to the formatting toolbar (which we’ll get to in a second), the paperclip to attach files, pictures or other documents, the recycle-like symbol that lets you grab files off Google Drive, the dollar sign that lets you send money to someone with Google Wallet, the picture icon that offers an easy way to add images, the chain link that lets you… any guesses?… add a Web link, and the smiley that gives you access to all the odd Google emoji. Finally, but not least, the trashcan lets you delete a message you’ve decided not to send, and the tiny downward triangle produces a menu of interesting options we’ll explore a bit later in this article.
That’s a lot of choices!
To start, click on the Underlined “A” icon to bring up the formatting bar:
Lots of formatting options! Perhaps the most important is the Tx on the right edge: that removes all formatting so you want to be careful before you click on it because there’s no undo on that particular one.
To apply a font change, select the word, words, phrase or entire message, then click on “Sans Serif” to see all the options included in Google Mail:
Lots of options, including the much maligned Comic Sans. So, of course, let’s use it in this email message!
The select-then-apply-format idea works across a wide variety of functions, so we can use it to change the color of text by selecting the text, clicking on the underlined “A” button then choosing a desired color from “Text color” and similar with adding a highlight or background color. The color palette in Gmail is cheery too:
The addition of Comic Sans and some colors make the impending email much more fun and visually engaging:
See how the first line is indented with a grey vertical bar? That’s because I selected the entire line and clicked on the “quote” formatting function, which indents and adds that bar. Very helpful if you’re quoting someone else so that it’s clear what text is you and what text is someone else.
Now, what happens if I select the entire message and click on that “Tx” remove formatting button? Oh, so sad:
Very not fun. And no “undo” either, so take it from me, be careful with that “Tx” button!
Before we wrap up, a few more quick examples. First off, those emoticons / emoji? Click on the smiley and you’ll see what I mean about “smooshed” imagery:
Maybe the artist was inspired by Tribbles?? Or had eaten a lot of gummy vitamins that morning?
Oh, and remember the tiny downward triangle on the main toolbar, all the way to the right? Click on it and here’s the menu that pops up:
The most useful of these? “Check spelling“. Really, there’s no reason nowadays to have typos show up in your correspondence!
And one more. Here’s what happens when I click on the “$” icon:
Apparently it’s easy to send money, but the tooltip suggests you can also request money, which is what I was going to try, but… maybe once it’s all set up?
In any case, I hope this gets you started sending more sophisticated, formatted email messages within Gmail. Poke around and experiment a bit, there’s a lot you can do!