When in Doubt, Send Plain Text Email, Not Fancy HTML

Hammers. ©Casey Bisson; CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license


Richly Formatted Messages Are Nice, But Not for Everybody

Sure, using fancy formatting in emails is nice, and all these stationery (for Outlook Express) and letter (for IncrediMail) creations are fascinating.

But not everybody can or wants to receive rich text messages.

Some email programs are not capable of rendering the HTML used for rich formatting in email messages. Others try, but fail miserably (or crash), rendering your message unaccessible to the recipient.

Other recipients have email clients that can properly render HTML messages, but despise rich formatting in email for various reasons (purity of the medium, bandwidth issues, security and privacy among others).

When in Doubt, Send Plain Text Email, Not Fancy HTML

So, whenever you are not sure a recipient appreciates email communication using rich and fancy HTML formatting,

  • send plain text emails by default, especially
  • if you have not previously talked to the recipient.

How to Send Emails in Plain Text

Here's how to send plain text only messages using various email programs:

    Send HTML to Users of Web-Based Email Services?

    It's usually safe to send HTML-formatted emails to users of web-based email services like Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail or Yahoo! Mail.

    What about Multipart/Alternative?

    In lieu of sending a plain text email, you can also send multipart/alternative messages that contain a plain text version, of course. The recipient's email program or service can then show the preferred version.

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