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Email Lesson 7

Formatting Email

Formatting Email Messages
Many email clients allow you to send and receive messages in two formats: plain text and HTML (Hypertext Markup Language).

Plain text files contain no formatting.

HTML is a computer language used to format text and objects on the World Wide Web. Using HTML (sometimes called Rich Text in email client software), you can add formatting to your email messages.

Formatting includes:

  • Formatting text (font and style)
  • Text alignment (right, left, center, justified)
  • Bullets
  • Numbering
  • Background color
  • Adding objects (such as the computer picture above)

Turn on HTML (Rich Text)
Formatting may help convey your message. You may have to explore your email client's Help file to learn if it includes HTML formatting. It may refer its formatting feature as HTML or Rich Text.

To turn on HTML (Rich Text), try the following options:

  • Explore the Format menu.
  • Explore the Actions menu.
  • The New button may include a drop down list that will feature formatting options.
  • Explore the Help file.
  • Look for an HTML (Rich Text) button in the email message window. This option may turn on an HTML (Rich Text) toolbar below the fields in the email message window.

Microsoft Outlook lets you create an email message using any of the Office suite applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access).

You can choose a default format for your messages. Many email clients allow you to choose HTML or plain text for each individual message.

Formatting Text

To format your text:

  • Turn on HTML/Rich Text formatting.
  • Compose your email message.
  • Select the text you want to format.
  • Using the HTML/Rich Text toolbar:
  • Determine font (Arial, Verdana, etc).
  • Determine font size (small medium, large or measured in points).
  • Determine font style (bold, italics, underline).
  • Determine font color.
  • Determine text alignment.

To learn more about basic text formatting, please see GCFLearnFree.org's Word 2000 course.

Choosing a Background Color

Adding a background color can enhance your message.

  • Place the insertion point in the text area of the message window.
  • Choose Format Background Color and choose a color from the color palette.
  • OR
  • See if your email client has any stationary templates. Stationary templates include background images, special text, and formatting.
  • OR
  •  Click the Background button on the HTML (Rich Text) toolbar.

If you don't have time to complete your message, your email client may feature a Save As Draft option. Or, copy and paste your message into a word processing document. Because not all email clients can read HTML formatting, sometimes it's best to send plain text messages. Otherwise, the recipient may have difficulty downloading your message.


Adding Objects to Email Messages
Many people use email to send pictures to friends and family. Some email clients are capable of inserting or adding other objects (such as graphic, sound, and media clips) to your messages.

To send pictures:

  • Attach it. Each picture you want to email is a file. You can attach one or more files to an email message and send it as an attachment.
  • Provide a link. Instead of sending the file as an email attachment, provide a link to a web page that includes a picture.
  • Use a Microsoft program. Outlook lets you create email messages using any of the Office suite applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access). Insert pictures as you normally would if you were using that application.