Optimizing CSS presentation in HTML emails

In Optimizing CSS presentation in HTML emails, Mark Wyner explains how you can use CSS to improve the markup of HTML emails.

This is a bit of a dilemma for me. I personally hate getting HTML-based emails, but I haven’t been able to make my co-workers or clients feel the same. Hence I sometimes need to create, or assist in creating, HTML emails.

That’s why I find this article interesting. If you need to do something you don’t agree with, you might as well do what you can to make the best of it.

Posted on September 5, 2005 in CSS, Quicklinks, Web Standards


  1. My two cents: I do not like to receive HTML e-mails, either (and I do not even want look at the code anymore).

    One of the most frustrating chapters of my professional career was to work as a consultant for a company doing e-marketing and e-mail promotion business. I actually had to write HTML e-mails, huh. What a mess… if you needed the e-mails to show up correctly in Lotus Notes, for example, even HTML 3.2 was not sufficient. Go figure.

    So, plain text is the best e-mail format ever. lol.

  2. September 6, 2005 by David Rieger

    I personally hate HTML-Emails as well but how do I explain to a computer novice why he shouldn’t write HTML emails? A friend of mine has just bought a computer and is making his first steps, including writing emails but how can I really convince him that it is bad to write HTML emails?

    By the way: Is it possible to switch off HTML rendering in Apple Mail?

  3. September 11, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    I find it very difficult to convince people not to use HTML in email. What you can do is send multipart messages to make sure any HTML email also contains a text version.

    Switching of HTML rendering in Apple Mail used to be possible with a bit of hacking. Upgrading to Mac OS X 10.4 broke that, and I haven’t been able to disable HTML rendering in the latest version.

    After Googling a bit I found a way of specifying a minimum font size in a thread at Macosxhints: Use a local stylesheet to control Mail.app HTML. The comment that contains the solution is labeled “Solution for small fonts in Tiger Mail, finally!”. Better than nothing I suppose.

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