Outlook Tips--HTML Message Formatting

How do you compose HTML mail messages that have more complex formatting than Outlook's Formatting toolbar can provide?

Outlook doesn't provide a command to insert tables into HTML messages, nor does it give you a way to edit the source of an HTML message. The View Source command that you see on the right-click context menu in an HTML message doesn't let you save any changes to the source back into the message.

You can compose complex HTML messages in several ways, though. One approach is to use your favorite HTML editor to create the HTML content. Save it as an .htm file, then use one of these methods to get it into the Outlook message:

  • Check Tools, Options, Mail Format to make sure Outlook is set to use HTML as its default message format. In Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), browse to the HTML page that you saved as a file. Then, choose File, Send, Page by Email.
  • Create a new HTML-format Outlook message. In IE, browse to the HTML page that you saved as a file. Choose Edit, Select All, then Edit, Copy. Switch to the Outlook message, and paste the copied material into the body of the message.
  • Create a new HTML-format Outlook message. Choose Insert, File, and select the saved HTML file. At the bottom right corner of the Insert File dialog box, click the small arrow next to the Insert button and choose Insert as Text.

Another way to create an HTML message with rich HTML tags is to use Microsoft Word 2002 or Word 2000 to create the document, then choose File, Send To, Mail Recipient. This process adds To, Cc, and Subject boxes to the top of the Word window, where you can fill in the recipient address and subject. When you send the message, Word uses HTML format. Unfortunately, in Word 2000, the application also bloats the message with several kilobytes of Office-specific XML formatting information. Word 2002, however, provides a way to strip the XML. You'll find the Filter HTML before sending option in Word 2002 on the General tab under Tools, Options, General, E-mail Options.

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