HTML Email

Posted by Dennis December 8th, 2011

The format of email has been a rocky road for several years now.  On one hand, it’s nice to keep it simple (and avoid spam blockers) and leave everything in Plain Text or Rich Text Format (RTF).   It doesn’t give you many options, but relays information just fine.  The problem is that a lot of people want fancier options, or they are making ads or newsletters for their customers.  The solution is HTML.  This is the  formatting language of the web, and many programs these days understand it.  The problem is that different programs may interpret in different ways, despite all efforts to standardize.  A prime example is Outlook.  It uses MS Word to do HTML, and the results aren’t always pretty.  A big group tried to change this a few years back, but Microsoft wouldn’t budge.  MS basically said “It ain’t broke, so we won’t fix it”.  So the world gets a half-baked email formatting solution that relies on a program that was never truly intended to render Web content.  Way to go Microsoft!  Meanwhile, in the 2010 edition of Outlook, they’ve reduced the functionality of RTF, and there are some VERY WEIRD glitches in the HTML rendering.  I’ve had complaints from several customers already.  If you’re seeing strange characters pop up in emails, this is probably why.  Hopefully the MS programming team are working on a fix.  In the meanwhile, if you ARE having issues with Outlook formatting, here’s a great article  that tells you how it all works, and some things you can change to help it. (Thanks Slipstick!)

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