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Rich Text, Plain Text or HTML Emails? Which Should You Use?

An email is an email is an email, right? Wrong! There are actually several types of email formats, and the one you use depends on whether you’re sending a message to a friend, creating a business document for work purposes, or designing a complex marketing email for clients on your database. But how do you know which one to use? Should you use plain or rich text? And what about HTML emails?

Let’s start by looking at each email type individually. Obviously, if you want your email to be opened and read (and of course you do or why would you send it?) you need to use a format that can be read by your intended recipient’s application.

HTML Emails

HTML is the default message format for Microsoft Outlook. If you want to create emails using bullet points, bold or italic type, or different fonts and colours, this is the format to use. HTML emails can also feature pictures that display inline. If you need to send marketing emails or subscription newsletters, this would be your preferred format.

HTML emails are easy to track, and any calls to action can be made prominent with fancy formatting, hyperlinked buttons and other features. You also have the reassurance of knowing that the way your email displays on your screen when you design it, is how it will look when your recipient opens it.

It’s important to make sure your HTML email is properly coded – broken tags can mean it’s marked as spam by your recipient’s email provider.

Plain Text Emails

According to Hubspot, plain text emails have a higher opening and click rate than HTML messages – possibly because they have the distinct advantage of being supported by all email applications. Some smart devices, such as the Apple watch, for example, handle plain text better than HTML.

A plain text format is ideal if you don’t need any fancy, complicated formatting, as it doesn’t support bold, italic or coloured fonts. You can attach pictures to this type of email, but they can’t be displayed directly in the message body. Plain text emails appear more personal than the more automated look of HTML messages, but they have the disadvantage of lacking visual appeal. The inability to format text also means any calls to action don’t stand out from the rest of the content.

Rich Text Emails

Rich text format (RTF) emails can be formatted, allowing for links, alignment and the use of bullet points. If you use Outlook, it automatically converts your rich text email to HTML when you send it to an Internet recipient. RTF is widely accepted across most operating systems and programmes, making it a good choice when you don’t know what the receiver of your document can accept. The major disadvantage of RTF emails is the file size – they can’t be compressed, so are much larger than the same document saved in .docx or .odt formats.

Whether you are looking for document composition services, email tracking, or email archiving services, Mailmech has a range of email solutions just for you. Find out more here, or call us on +27 11 207 891 608.

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