Join Tim Slavin for an in-depth discussion in this video Designing and coding a text email, part of Creating an HTML Email Newsletter.
Creating a text version of our e-mail should not take much time; it's also one of the more interesting design challenges. Text e-mail cannot use color, font size and HTML links, for example. To begin we'll start with our e-mail copy text file, we'll type Ctrl+A or Command+A to select everything, Ctrl+C or Command+C to Copy and we'll create a new file and Ctrl+V or Command+V to Paste. One of the key challenges with text e-mail design is how to differentiate headings from links, important information from non-important information.
In this case, it's important to tell people how they subscribed, and how you got there e-mail address. It's also important to include a link to view the web version. However, it's not as important as they heading or subheading, so let's build this text e-mail. Put this on a new line, we have in our exercise file a series of character lines. This represents how we might use different characters on the keyboard to create dividers, to help our readers, skin our text e-mail.
In this case, you see we have plus signs, double equal, and I'm looking for stars, so I'll select this, copy and then paste. The other important point about text e -mail is that it can only be about 60 to 65 characters wide. E-mail software typically cuts off text e-mails at about 70 to 80 characters. In this case, our borders are about 40 characters I'll add a border underneath, and I will use the heading to give me an idea where to do a line break.
I'll shorten this up a little bit; I'll add the link to the web version. Next, I want to tackle a heading here, I like the idea of an underline, so let me do this. I'll push this over to roughly the right edge of our top divider line and I'll do the same, and I'll use it to line up. Then I'll go through my copy and pick breakpoints based on the right edge, doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to look good.
I'm also separating out that we look forward to seeing you, because it will be much stronger this way than on a webpage. This chunk of text looks fine; I need to break this up a little bit. Here with the address, I'm going to do this on multiple lines and I'll remove the HTML code. Finally, I'll change this symbol for copyright to the word.
I'll add a link for Facebook, because the copyright, and to lesser extent the Facebook URL are less important than the actual message. I want to create a divider here. I'll go to my file with e-mail dividers, so I'll select this, scroll down, hit Enter and there's our text e-mail. As you can see we've taken a couple of very simple ideas, and we've created some visual differentiation, so people can tell what are headlines, what's copy, what's extremely important and what's less important.
Now we'll save this. Now that we have a text version and an HTML version of our e-mail, we're ready to send our e-mail, the last step in this project.
- Adjusting margins and padding in the code
- Setting the look for headers and footers
- Testing the code with tools like BrowserLab
- Building a TXT equivalent of an HTML email for simple email readers