To Use Internet-Style Quoting

Last reviewed on April 13, 2012   —  7 comments

Internet-style quoting consists of putting a > or other character in front of the original message when you reply or forward it. Recipients can easily distinguish the original message from your comments. This method is preferred on many Internet mailing lists that transmit in plain text only

The default setting in current versions of Outlook in no quoting, no indentation. This can be changed to use a quote prefix, indent quoted messages, or attach quoted messages. We do not recommend using the Indent or Attach options.

Note that the quote prefix character (usually “>”) is applied only to plain text messages. When you enable this option and reply to an HTML message, the quoted message is prefaced with a blue line.

Quote prefix on plain text messagesHTML replies with quote prefix enabled

Outlook 98 or later | Other Tools | Notes | More Information

Outlook 2010

  1. Choose File, Options, Mail
  2. In the Replies and forwards section (about halfway down the dialog), choose Prefix each line of the original message.
  3. Enter the desired prefix character in the Preface each line in a plain text message with: field.
  4. Change the Quote prefix in Mail options

We highly recommend using > as the character as its the commonly accepted quote-prefix.

Outlook 2007 to Outlook 98

  1. Choose Tools | Options. On the Preferences tab, click E-mail Options.
  2. Under When replying to a message and When forwarding a message, choose Prefix each line of the original message.
  3. Set the prefix character(s) under Prefix each line with.
  4. Click OK twice.

Preferences, Email options dialog in Outlook 2007 (and older)


Advanced Quoting for Outlook

Provides automatic coloring of lines of text, depending on the nesting level of correspondence in replies and forwarded emails allows you to look over your e-mail messages more quickly and easily manage incoming e-mail.

Email Templates

Exchange/Outlook add-on to create custom replies, forwards, signatures -- inserting any type of boilerplate text into your message. Templates are stored in Outlook or Exchange folders and can contain scripting elements (in VBScript or ET's own script language) to build replies that use information from the incoming message. Various extensions can handle such tasks as mailing list subscriptions. For a rotating quote, download the Rotating Text template. Has some issues with Outlook 2002 -- make sure you get the latest update, disable RTF templates, and don't try to use ET as a custom action in Rules Wizard.


Cleans up plain text replies and forwards by tightening the quoting characters, allowing you to specify the quote header, and moving the cursor to the bottom of the message. Beta. Free.


Quoted text is not excluded from spell check in older versions and under certain circumstances. This should work as expected in Outlook 2007 and up.

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlookforums.

7 responses to “To Use Internet-Style Quoting”

  1. Name

    Wrong instructions for Outlook 2007. In the Options tab there is no such thing as Preferences tab and email options.

    Will search the Internet for better information.

  2. Didi

    How can I change these properties using VBA?
    I like your posts :-)

  3. Didi

    Thanx a lot!

  4. Kevin

    Anyone know how to do this with webmail?

Leave a Reply

If the Post Coment button disappears, press your Tab key.