Wednesday, December 5, 2012

This post is a follow up to the post of 12/4/2013. These are some more basic items to address in email.

Common Fonts

        Ten to twelve point sizes are generally best to ensure optimal page fit and esthetics.  Changes from one style, size or attribute should be kept to a minimum.

Font Attributes

        Every computer user is familiar with bold, italic and underscore.  In order to be effective, utilizing these should occur only to add emphasis, distinction or the need for separation.  If overused, these attributes lose their effectiveness and can cause the reader to misunderstand the author’s intent.

        Legibility is a key to emails not only being considered to read but also being read through to completion.  Emails are not the vehicle for creative and, especially, pseudo creative pages.  There are three popular types of email formatting: 

1)   Plain text – this is still the most popular format for email, although less and less.  As the name connotes, plain text provides virtually no formatting.  Font color and bold type face are not capabilities.  Graphics page formats (such as columns), imbedded programs and multimedia are also not capabilities.  In essence, plain text can be compared to a page composed on a typewriter.

2)   HTML (Hypertext mark-up language) is a page description language where virtually any type of format or multimedia capability can be implemented.  Full definitions and in-depth books, articles and programming guides are plentiful and readily available.  Many emails are written in this format.

3)   “Enriched Text” FFC1341 or Rich Text Format (RTF) – this format is from Microsoft and roughly provides MSWord type of capabilities to an email message.  Microsoft owns and maintains the specifications.  This format is widely used by MS Outlook users and provides interoperability among MS applications.


    When selecting a format to send an email, the audience should be considered on an initial communication.  If the email is outside of an organization, then plain text is the sensible selection.  HTML format might be selected as marketing, promotional or special occasion communication.  Rich Text format should only be used when it is certain that the recipient uses Outlook or products which can read this format, then RTF is acceptable.  Some users compose a message in either RTF or HTML format and add a plain text format attachment.  This method is acceptable but may result in having a message rejected by anti-spam software or by security concerns.