This article was originally published as part of the Pobox blog. Pobox was acquired by Fastmail in 2015.

Email Etiquette is a series of blog posts that was nearly titled "Things you've tried to tell your family a million times, and have gotten tired of repeating." Have an email pet peeve that you'd like to see in a future blog post? Send an email to or leave a comment!

Once upon a time, my mother got an email program that had clip art built in. For a period of several months, no message was too large or small to go unembellished with clip art. Failing to find any clip art in her collection that would suit her message content, she could always just fall back to a picture of a cannon.

By and large, email is still a medium that values content over style, at least when you hear from a human and not a company. But, from time to time, we still get that message with pink text on a paisley tiled image background. So, here are Pobox's tips for maximum email enjoyment for all.

Sending images in your messages is great. Grandparents the world over love receiving pictures of their grandbabies. Images are less great the more people you send them to, though. (If you want to spread pictures far and wide, put them on Flickr.) Background pictures, by virtue of going out on every email you send, are thus the worst offenders of the email world. Save background images for your web pages.

When considering your email text, think of it this way. Every email you send is asking someone for something, even if it is only, "Please read this message." When you ask someone for a favor, you want to make it easy for them to do it. So, choose a clear, easy-to-read font, preferably at least 12 pixels large (10 is ok for print, but too small for the screen.) Black text is the easiest to read in a variety of formats. If you need to add color, it should be an accent, like in your signature, not for the whole message text.

What are your email formatting pet peeves?