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Something to think about... / blog
There is more to email than TEXT vs. HTML

Written by on June 13, 2007

There has been quite an attack against HTML based emails the last few weeks - probably started by Zeldman's post about the same. But they forget about the advantages of HTML formatting.

I fully agree that creating HTML based email to create fully styled emails is a bad idea. First of all it doesn't work (e.g. all images are removed in Outlook by default; other email clients may not support colors, CSS or simply fail to do so consistenly). Secondly, well, it is just plain stupid.

Don't do this (and these are some of the nicer ones):

But what about HTML formatting? HTML formatted text is easier to read than pure text - much easier actually. With HTML you got the ability to make:

  • Bold or Italic text
  • Headlines
  • Horizontal lines
  • Tables
  • Lists
  • Subscript or superscript
  • Deleted text
  • Blockquotes
  • Text links (not URL links)

They are all great enhancements to presenting text and they provide a much better reading experience.

To give you an example, compare these two (very long) emails to see the power of HTML formatting vs. text only:

Original - text only formatting

Enhanced - HTML formatted

Not only is the HTML version easier to read, it creates nicer looking links, better headlines and section dividers, and much better lists - and it requires 20% less scrolling. HTML formatting seriously beats text-only formatting in every way imaginable.

The only things you cannot do with HTML emails is styling (colors, font sizing, and background trickery) and adding images - that is it. Think if it as HTML 1.0

And, the next time someone says that HTML emails suck, just smile at them because you know the trick.

HTML formatted emails rocks - HTML styled emails sucks.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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