How to write an email: a gentle diversion

  1. Open the email client
  2. Write the email
  3. Review what you have written
  4. Send it

I am begging y’all, please stop using MailChimp or other templates for emails. They invariably make them harder to read for someone.*

  • change font → harder to read for someone
  • include images → harder to read for someone
  • put information in an image → harder to read for someone
  • use a background color → harder to read for someone
  • change the font color → harder to read for someone
  • change the font size → harder to read for someone
  • add margins → harder to read for someone
  • make fancy newsletter style layouts → harder to read for someone
  • literally do anything other than write an email using default settings → harder to read for someone

The clearest, most accessible, most universally usable way to communicate in email is to just write text and send it. People already have their email client set up so they can read how they like. Everything else makes it worse.

Fun fact! No-one cares about your design or images. They just want to read the email. Let them.

* Who is “someone”?

  • the elderly
  • people with visual problems
  • people with dyslexia
  • people who are colorblind
  • people with motor control difficulties
  • people with any of a whole bunch of neurological conditions
  • people who want to translate the email
  • people who want to listen to it on a screenreader
  • people reading on bad old mobiles
  • people reading in the sunlight
  • people reading on the train
  • people using a text-only email client
  • people short of time who want to get the gist in a glance
  • many, many other people who you and I don’t even know exist

There are technical reasons for this situation. Email only supports an old and ugly subset of HTML which clients then apply inconsistently, so it’s basically impossible to do design in an email client and have it work. Providers will tell you that their templates are responsive, accessible, and so on. They are lying, do not believe them.

Email should never have tried to support fancy design. It’s for sending messages.

Just write the email and send it. I am begging you. :pray:


Let’s bring back the 1980s, when email can only be text, and people will berate you for wasting their bandwidth if your signature is more than one line or contain ASCII art

                       88" . "88
                       (| -_- |)
                       O\  =  /O
                  .'  \\|     |//  `.
                 /  \\|||  :  |||//  \
                /  _||||| -:- |||||_  \
                |   | \\\  -  /'| |   |
                | \_|  `\`---'//  |_/ |
                \  .-\__ `-. -'__/-.  /
              ___`. .'  /--.--\  `. .'___
           ."" '<  `.___\_<|>_/___.' _> \"".
          | | :  `- \`. ;`. _/; .'/ /  .' ; |
          \  \ `-.   \_\_`. _.'_/_/  -' _.' /
===========`-.`___`-.__\ \___  /__.-'_.'_.-'================

I’m guilty of changing font colour to indicate ‘quote’ or ‘question (s)’ from my interlocutor.

I hope I didn’t make it hard for you. :grin:

1 Like

The Banthe’s lion roar :wink:


@christie LOL. I am taking that ascii art without it being given and I will not give you credit. :slight_smile:

Haha, you are welcome. I stole it from somewhere by searching for “Buddhist ASCII art” on DuckDuckGo.


Not at all, I have good eyesight. But your email client has default styles to indicate “quote” and they work just fine.