Skip to content

Tips to Help Smartphone Readers

For those who read their business email on smartphones, we need to take steps to keep them happy. Below I have listed a few tips that smartphone readers in writing classes have suggested.

And since I won't be getting an iPhone for a few weeks and can't speak from my own experience, would you please share your suggestions too? If you read your email on a mobile phone, jump in and help us write better for you.

Helpful Tips

  1. As with any business email, write succinctly, with the main points at the beginning, less important details at the end. Many smartphone readers won't get past the beginning before clicking to the next message.
  2. When you are replying, do not embed your answers in the other person's original email. Include your answers at the beginning of your reply. Otherwise, your reader may need to scroll through lots of text to find your important content. And the embedded answers may be difficult to spot.
  3. When your email includes an attachment, paste essential content from the attachment into your email. Don't make your smartphone readers open an attachment for must-have information. It may be too much trouble for them, and it's not fun to read endless text on a small screen.
  4. Think twice about including images. A few phones won't display the images in your email, and others won't clearly display words that appear in images.
  5. Recognize that employees may not be able to access your intranet from their phone.
  6. Know that your readers may not bother to click your links because of slow-loading Internet pages.
  7. If you regularly write to people who read their email on an iPhone, a Droid, a BlackBerry, or another device, find out how you can meet their needs better.
  8. Forgive those who send odd, all-thumbs messages. Of course, they are all thumbs.

What do you wish for as someone who reads email on a phone?

Syntax Training

Posted by Avatar photo
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

10 comments on “Tips to Help Smartphone Readers”

  • Great observations, Lynn!

    Regarding #8, I altered my iPhone’s default email signature to read:

    Sent from my iPhone (pardon the typos)

  • If it’s not urgent, I’ll respond to an email on my smart phone by acknowledging the message and telling the sender that I will write or call with a lengthier message when I get back to my office. This avoids too many typos, incorrect grammar and messages that may sound too cryptic.

  • Jeannette, that’s a practical suggestion from someone whose reputation is based on clear, correct communication. Thanks for sharing.


  • Matthew, that’s an excellent question, and I don’t have an answer. Do you?

    I do have someone in mind who knows a lot about information security. It will take me a couple of days, but I will see if he has an answer for you.


  • Jeannette,
    I think that sounds good. My question is there are times that I open business email from my phone and find it can be hours before I have the opportunity to access my computer. Lynn, how secure do you find the information we send through email, via our smartphone is?

  • Lynn,
    I don’t really know the answer although I would assume, just as with text, you must be careful about what information you give. If you have the time and can find out that answer for me that would be great! Thanks!

  • Except blackberry, which declare they have the encryption between your device and you server(s) & your email delivered to internal recipients only (email does not go through internet), all the email are all in plain text format. It means it is possible to information disclosure.

    Although you can encrypt your message content using Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), which assumed it is secure with the current computer processing power, the information of sender,recipients, sent date, subject, email size, your sending address (where you sent from) etc, are in plain text (must). And you still have the risk on the encryption flaw (nothing is unbreakable)

  • Such a nice tips for Smartphone readers. I have Blackberry Bold smartphones. That integrate up to 10 email accounts into one easy-to-access place, along with your calendar, contacts and other important data.

Comments are closed.