New Email Communication Trend – TLDR

TLDR; People are now putting brief summaries at the top of their long email messages.

When Email was the primary form of communication for most business-related interactions, it felt revolutionary! You no longer had to wait for a fax to come in, or be at your desk exactly when someone was trying to talk to you, and it was definitely quicker than what quickly became known as “snail mail”.  These days, we are no longer satisfied with simple email messages. Most businesses have moved on to chat programs like Slack to communicate.

However out of date Email is becoming, it is still used by many, and still has a valid place in business communications, although perhaps not for long. A few years back, when you just wanted to send a simple message to someone over email, you could communicate exactly what you need in the subject line and include n/t or NM which stood for “no text” or “no message”. Using the subject line and the warning that there was no text included in the body of the email was a super quick way to get your very short message across.

What is TLDR;?

The latest trend is basically the opposite of the “no text” or “no message” emails. When you have a particularly wordy message, you can include a TLDR; summary at the top. TLDR; came from message boards when someone would go into a really long discussion on something. In the end, they would include TLDR; which stands for Too Long, Didn’t Read, and a one-sentence summary of the entire message.

Now that TLDR; has made it’s way to email messages, though, they are included at the top of the email. It provides a brief summary of the wordy email message below if you don’t have the time to read the entire email. As we try to fit just about everything possible into our schedules these days, we look at paragraphs upon paragraphs in an email and give up on actually reading it.

You may be wondering if this should just be the subject line of the email. The difference between the subject line and a TLDR; summary is the length. The subject line in an email can really only show a set amount of characters and should be even broader than the TLDR; statement. For example, the subject line could be “content marketing meeting” and the TLDR; statement could read, “during our meeting about content marketing we decided that there are 3 main areas we need to focus on, blog posts, LinkedIn, and Facebook” The body of the email can go into more detail on each topic.

The person receiving the email can decide whether or not they will need to read the whole thing to get their job done, or if they should be able to read the TLDR; and be good with that.

If you find yourself writing a particularly long email message, it might be a good idea to include a TLDR; summary at the top. The recipients of your message might be extremely grateful that you did.