It’s been a while since I’ve been asked to create an HTML newsletter, so I just discovered this old issue, but thought I’d share it anyway.
Turns out that Microsoft in their infinite wisdom, decided to remove some functionality from the Outlook rendering engine. In plain english this means you can’t code your newsletter acxcording to modern HTML and CSS standards. Without going into too much detail, Microsoft decided that they should change their HTML and CSS rendering engine for Outlook 2007 (primarily citing security benefits as the main reason).
While Outlook 2003 currently uses the same HTML renderer as Internet Explorer (which is why what you see in internet explorer is what you see in an email) Outlook 2007 uses the same renderer as Microsoft Word, which doesn’t fulfill all of the HTML and CSS standards.
The biggest issues that content designers have to deal with is that Outlook 2007 background Images are not displayed and CSS positioning is largely ignored. These are irritating issues for the designer trying to properly code a website, however there are ways to work around these issues.
- Using background images – use background colors and insert images. This will noot look as crisp as it could in Outlook 2003 and other mail clients, but it’s a functional solution. If you need to have text over an image, include the text in the actual image.
- Positioning – completely ignore CSS positioning and replace with nested tables. This will increase your file size slightly but, if done properly, it won’t necessarily trigger spam filters more than a clean HTML and CSS design.
Here are a few links that explain working with HTML Newsletters in Outlook 2007 and presumably the upcoming Outlook 2010:
- Outlook 2007 and HTML email design: a summary
- Microsoft’s specifications for Word 2007 and Outlook 2007 HTML and CSS Rendering