Bari Pollard's picture
Author: 
Bari Pollard

There are more than 400 million Outlook users worldwide, and Outlook is often considered the best email client. However, when it comes to viewing HTML emails, which are most of them, it can be hard to make your emails look good in Outlook. 

Just consider the sheer number of Outlook products: Outlook 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Outlook.com, Outlook for Office 365, Outlook for Mac, Outlook for iOS, Outlook for Android… with more to come in the future.

They all use different rendering engines; some use Webkit, some use Internet Explorer, and some use Microsoft Word. So you may get it looking good on your PC and then a client will say it isn’t working on theirs. 

Even Mailchimp has a page on this issue! MailChimp and Outlook So how can I make things look better. 

Well there are a few things to try, 

  • Add Alt Text for any images. Outlook expects them to be there and can add its own junk code if there isn’t something. This is good practice anyway as most Outlook users won’t download the images.
  • Add links to any images.  Again, Outlook might expect there to be a link and if it isn’t there, it can add rubbish code to break formatting. 
  • Experiment with Images in different blocks to the text. 
  • Experiment with different blocks and link to images. 
  • If you know most of the email recipients use Outlook, consider a traditional style CiviMail instead.
  • Use less images and more personal text.
  • 1-2-1 style emails can get more engagement than newsletters.  

Sometimes it is a bit of hit and miss approach and what might work on your Outlook doesn’t work on someone elses. 

You can give instructions to clients on how to turn off using Microsoft Word for rendering emails in Outlook, which would probably improve their experience across the board! 

Outlook Settings – Go to Tools menu, then Options item and then click on Mail Format tab. Make sure that both checkboxes that reference Microsoft Word are unticked. This will allow Outlook to use its own faster and more lightweight editor instead.

You can also ensure that View this email as a Webpage is included and near the top of your email so if anyone is experiencing difficulties, they can see it properly rendered on the website. 

One day Microsoft will fix Outlook, but it’s only been trying for 10 years, however in 2022 there is a new version coming….. 

Outlook Project Monarch