Your E-mail Reader Determines How Newsletter Is Rendered

January 5, 2015

Soon after last week’s Graphics Unleashed Weekly Newsletter had been sent, I got an e-mail from a frustrated reader. The reader begged me to “fix” the formatting because the first couple of characters were being cut off in the list of articles. I was even provided with a screenshot of the issue as shown below.
Windows Live Mail Renders Newsletter Incorrectly
I agree, it looks awful! Luckily I was also provided with the information that this reader was using Windows Live Mail on Windows 7. Since the reader had included the entire newsletter when responding to me, I scrolled down to see the exact same block as rendered in Microsoft Outlook 2013 (my e-mail reader of choice). You’ll see that sample below.
Outlook Renders Newsletter Correctly
As you look at the two samples so far, notice that Windows Live Mail pushes each of the headlines to the left when compared with the “In This Issue..” above the list. Outlook shows the same list with a slight indent when compared with “In This Issue…”.

I also looked at the same section in Yahoo Mail and you’ll see a screenshot of it below.
Yahoo Renders Newsletter Correctly
Yahoo shows the list as a bulleted list where the bullets are slightly outdented from the “In This Issue…” headline and the headlines themselves are indented quite a bit.

What I want you to all understand is that every e-mail reader renders HTML-based e-mail differently. It is a horrible problem. I have talked to folks at the company who powers our newsletter mailings, FeedBlitz, and they assure me that I am formatting the e-mails correctly. The failure is with e-mail readers such as Windows Live Mail. Given that Windows Live Mail has a 2% market share and dropping (as of November 2014), this only affects a small numbers of readers. While I want the newsletter to work for everyone, I can’t control mistakes made by the software you use to read e-mail. The best suggestion I can give you is to move to a more robust e-mail reader that doesn’t completely butcher the formatting of the HTML provided in the e-mail.

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Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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