Email Best Practices

Published 8 Comments on Email Best Practices

Every few months, I find the time to update the cross-client html template.  Again, I used the returnPath tool to help me get a handle on best practices.  I improved it over the previous one in a few ways.  Here is a quick list of what I know:

  • SpamAssassin will give you bad marks for spam if you:
    • include the word “Dear” near the top of your message.  (Crazy, huh?)
    • make anything font: 0px.  (oops, I got rid of that)
    • send the mail from a long URL domain with 4 or more levels.
  • My template works in:
    • AOL 9
    • AOL Web
    • Comcast
    • Earthlink
    • Gmail
    • Lotus Notes 6.5.4
    • MSN Hotmail
    • Outlook 2003
    • Outlook 2007
    • Outlook Express 6
    • Outlook XP
    • Thunderbird
    • Virgin Media (UK)
    • Windows Live Hotmail
    • Windows Mail
    • Yahoo! Classic
    • Yahoo! Mail
  • Never use CSS classes, only inline styles
  • You can make a nice email with rounded corners if you are careful.
  • Shadows are possible if you know the exact height/width of the mail
  • Images as calls to actions are ok, but use alt= or title= to give them alt text.
  • There needs to be email rendering standards.

Making emails that work are really hard.  I hope this template helps people out.  It’s usually my most popular page on the blog.


  1. Thanks very much for your blog – great reference. This template renders in Gmail very nicely with the exception of a very thin, white stripe under the rounded corners at the bottom. Any ideas for how to eliminate this?

  2. Something may have changed since I built this. (Aug, 2008) Is the problem in all browsers? If yes in Firefox, use Firebug to figure out what is happening. Is there a difference between the corners on the outside versus the column bottom corners? Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to troubleshoot.

Whatya think?