PaperclipsmLast week, I received an invitation to an event by email. The problem? Well, the email message contained two attachments: a Word document and a PDF. The Word document described the event, and the PDF served up a pretty picture, along with the email address of the person who was ready to receive RSVPs. Her address wasn’t hotlinked.

So, I had to open three things and copy down the email address. Do you think this is an efficient and friendly way to communicate with people? Me neither. Let’s see how this communication could have been improved.

  1. When possible, include ALL the information in the body of your email. (Makes me crazy when I open an attachment only to find six words, or worse, a blank background gif. What’s the point?)
  2. Use an attachment only if you have a flyer or some other information that adds value to your message. Don’t just repeat what’s in the email.
  3. Attach a PDF rather than a Word document, unless you want the recipient to edit the document. The beauty of a PDF: your layout stays consistent and the contents can’t easily be changed. (When I’m working on copy with clients, we always use Word. When I send an invoice, it’s a PDF.)
  4. If you do attach a PDF with embedded Web URLs or email addresses, make those links live!

Before you click on the “attach” button, think twice! Can you add a related tip to this list?


  1. I agree with your points 1 & 2. I have had attachments that contain messages someone wanted to forward to me. Why not just use Forward and let me see the info in the body of the email message? And I wish people would clean up the long trail of forwards that sometimes appear before you get to the real message. And what about long trails of correspondence that are days old yet remain attached to every message? PEOPLE! Delete everything that’s unnecessary!


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