Making Text E-Mails Displayed As Intended

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Marketing e-mails are commonly sent in two different formats: HTML and plain text. Each one displays differently and you never know if your e-mail is going to display properly no matter how much you test it. It could be that your plain text e-mail has one of four problems: line lengths; links; characters; and justification. Here we will take a look at each and tell you what the problems are and how to fix the.


Line Lengths

E-mail client software tends to break up lines of text in the oddest of places and subsequently you will have lines that are shorter or longer than others. The best way to prevent it is to use shorter lines that have hard returns at the end. Jagged formatting can be avoided by keeping each line to approximately sixty to sixty-five characters.

You can make your life easier by setting your editing software to a width of no more than sixty-five characters with automatic hard returns tacked on the end. If you can’t use your editing software to do this, then simply do it manually. Count out your characters and add a hard return everywhere one is needed.


Your e-mail may be set to sixty-five characters, but what do you do with a URL that is longer? If you split it up, readers who click on it will not be sent to the right webpage. Instead they will have to copy and paste the URL into a new window, meaning more work. There is a way to force the e-mail client to recognize the URLs and make them clickable. All URLs should be written in full starting with ‘http://’. It alerts the e-mail that this is a web address. Additionally, add a space before and after the URL.

Your URL should look something like this: .

Yes, you will experience some really odd punctuation, but it is necessary to make sure the URL is clickable. If it happens that links with non-conventional endings – like .pdf or .exe – are not coming up as clickable, it’s because the e-mail client is not recognizing the ending. You can redirect the URL to another page that in its turn automatically redirects it to the proper page. This helps to keep the URLs short and allows you to keep all the links in your e-mail consistent.

Odd Characters

If you use characters in your e-mails that are outside the standard ASCII character set, they are going to display oddly in your text e-mail. This can be avoided by creating your text-only e-mails and newsletter with a simple text editor such as WordPad. Many simple text editors include a spell checker which makes it handy to write, cut and paste your information without having to worry about transferring it to another program to check spelling and grammar.


Sometimes your text won't be displayed the way you set it. If this happens, try to change the font that you use to one that is a fixed-space font, such as Courier. These fonts account for every space and character in the same amount of width and it allows you to use your space bar to justify the text the way you want it.

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