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What Is Email Threading: The Complete 2022 Guide

Written by, Ljubica Gjorgievska

Updated April, 18, 2022

Email threading is a feature that organises your email conversations into one continuous thread.

This can be especially useful when a conversation has taken place over a period of time, and there are multiple emails involved. Threading makes it easy to follow the discussion by seeing all the messages at once and in one place. 

Read on as we explore and answer the most common questions about this feature, from what is email threading and how it works to what are the benefits and drawbacks of email threads.

How Does Email Threading Work?

Email threading analyses and identifies different elements of the email, such as the people in the conversation, attachments, and subject lines, then groups them together as one continuous email chain or thread.

So what does that mean for you?

Say your colleague wrote an email saying she couldn’t find a file and would you contact her, but then sent another message 2 minutes later to say she found it on her own. Under normal circumstances, those two emails would be separate, but with email threading, they will be joined together as a single message chain.

What Are the Benefits of Using Email Threads?

Email threading offers a lot of perks. Here is an overview of some of them.

Makes long conversations easier to follow

As we mentioned earlier, this feature organises your email conversations into one email conversation thread, making it easy to follow the discussion. If you receive a lot of emails, you know how time-consuming it can be to go through each individual message. With email threading, you have the entire conversation in one place.

Helps you keep your inbox organised

Joining multiple messages into a single e-mail thread can significantly reduce email clutter. It will also help keep your inbox organised, saving you the trouble of deleting old emails manually to free up some storage space.

Keeps everyone in the loop

One of the best features of email threading is that it makes it quick and easy to reply to all participants in a conversation. You don’t have to search through your inbox for each individual email, simply reply to the thread, and all your recipients will receive your message.

Helps sort out messages for future reference

Email threads can also help sort out messages for future reference. By grouping related messages together, it’s easier to find what you are looking for exactly when you need it.

Drawbacks of Email Threads

Email threading has its drawbacks as well as advantages. So what are the major downsides to email threading?

Can be confusing for new participants

If someone joins a conversation mid-thread, they might find it confusing to follow the discussion.

Too many people can create a lot of confusion

The same goes for an email chain or thread with too many participants. A large number of people in the thread is good for keeping everyone informed, but too many, and the discussion may become impossible to follow.

Messages can get lost within the thread

Sometimes emails can get lost within a long thread, making them difficult to find again unless you know exactly what you’re looking for.

It’s easy to get off-topic

All it takes is one message to derail the entire thread. And the more people involved, the easier it is for email chains to get off-topic.

Some email servers do not offer this feature

Even though the most popular email servers have the feature, not all provide threaded replies.

How to Enable Email Threading

Most email servers support email threading and have it set as default, i.e. you have ‘Conversation View’ already enabled on your email.

Enabling email threading on Gmail

Email threading is enabled on Gmail by default. To turn it off or on again, follow these steps:

  1. Open your Gmail and go to Settings
  2. Scroll down to Conversation View
  3. Toggle on and off to enable or disable email threading

Enabling email threading on Outlook 

Messages in threads and under the same subject line are displayed in Conversations. To turn this feature off, complete the following procedure:

  1. Go to your inbox, select View > Show as Conversations
  2. Toggle Conversation view on or off
  3. Select All mailboxes or This folder
  4. Email threads will go under the  Collapsed Conversations icon icon. 
  5. Select the Collapsed Conversations icon icon to expand or collapse a Conversation

Enabling email threading in Mozilla Thunderbird

Email threading is turned off by default. To enable it:

  1. Go to View menu on the menu bar
  2. In Sort by submenu, click Threaded to group conversations
  3. Click on the arrow ▹ next to the subject to expand or collapse a conversation

Tips and Tricks to Create an Effective E-mail Thread

Now that you know what email threading is and some of the benefits it offers, it’s time to learn how to use it effectively. Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Start a new email thread for every new topic

This will help keep conversations organised and easy to follow. It will also prevent messages from getting lost within a long thread.

2. Keep the conversation on track

Don’t let messages derail the discussion. If someone goes off-topic, politely remind them to get back on track.

3. Use subject lines carefully

Subject lines can help keep track of conversations, but be careful not to include too much information in them. Keep them short and simple. 

4. Be careful who and how many people you include in the thread

Only add people to the thread who need to see your replies. 

You can easily add or remove contacts from the email thread. Simply add the person’s email address in the CC field or click on the ‘X’ next to the email address of the person you wish to remove from the conversation.

6. Keep the content of the emails professional

When dealing with email threads in the workplace, it’s important to remember that email chains are not chats. You still need to craft professional messages that you will carefully review before pressing ‘Send’.

Before You Start Your Next Email Thread

So what is email threading? Basically, it’s the email server’s ability to show several related messages in one long email chain.

Have you tried using email threading? If not, our guide will show you how to get started and begin using the benefits of having all your related messages in one easily-accessible email chain.

As a writer for Don’t Disappoint Me, my job is to collect relevant key information and interpret it into a wide range of content. I also have an MSc in Marketing, so I am always trying to expand my knowledge and discover new and exciting areas of digital marketing, SEO and web traffic building. I am a nature enthusiast, so when I’m not researching and analyzing, I love to go hiking with my dogs, camping, or snowboarding. I am a bookaholic as well and have an ongoing obsession with crime TV shows and movies.