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We've seen how HTML email is not a web page sent as an email, and how HTML email looks different in different email software. Now, let's explore how to find out what email software does with HTML email. First, there are a few online resources where you can find how email software displays different HTML and CSS properties. Here is the most comprehensive resource for when you have questions about whether or not Notes or other email software supports a specific property.
This page is an article at the Campaign Monitor email delivery service, and they maintain a list of test results for different web browsers for all different CSS selectors and styles. For example, you can see that the border property works in Outlook 2000 and 2003, is somewhat questionable in Live Hotmail, but it displays fine in all of these others.
It doesn't display well in Lotus Notes 6 and 7. This article is an excellent resource if you have a very specific question about whether or not a style works, or if you're testing your HTML email software and you see that a style is not working and you want to confirm that in fact the problem is with the email software. Another useful resource is the Email Standards Project web site which tracks how different email software supports CSS and HTML properties.
The Email Standards Project also uses an acid test email, a single email that contains the most commonly used HTML and CSS. The acid test is used to test email software fairly across a range of HTML and CSS styles. You can see how one email appears in many different email software clients. Here's what an acid test report looks like for Lotus Notes 8. It's easy to find an answer about what a specific email software client does support.
For example, Lotus Notes 8 doesn't support the border property or line-height. The campaign monitor and email standards web sites are some of the best ways to find out if email software used by your readers supports a given CSS or HTML property. The next step in understanding HTML email is to talk about what exactly is email.
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