Why doesn't my HTML message display correctly in Outlook?

Emails not displaying properly in Outlook? You're not alone.

Some versions of Microsoft Outlook, most notoriously 2007-2019, use Microsoft Word to render HTML email, rather than a web browser or other program which is compatible with current web standards.

There are many versions of Outlook in the wild:

  • Windows Desktop - Outlook 2007 - 2019
  • Outlook for Mac
  • Outlook.com
  • Outlook mobile apps
  • Outlook Office 365 has both a desktop and a web based email client.

What does this mean?

Basically, it means that people viewing email in Outlook may not be able to see your beautifully designed templates properly. Parts of these templates, including background images, bulleted lists, and many positioning elements, may not appear at all, or may be broken when viewed in these versions of Outlook.

This isn't an issue with AWeber.

This is a fundamental issue with the way content in emails and websites is created with HTML. Many people expect email content to be "fixed" and displayed exactly as they see it at creation time to each recipient that views it and that's fundamentally not how email or web design works.

Outlook 2007-2019 uses a different HTML rendering engine than other email programs and thus will interpret any and all emails sent to it from *ANY* system in ways that are different. Just like with websites, different email programs will display the same email content differently depending on what the user views the email in. Be that, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook, MacMail, iOS Mail, Android Gmail, and on and on. Even further, if you use Gmail.com or any other web based browser to read your email it could display differently depending on whether you view it using Chrome browser, Safari, Firefox, or the dozens of other web browsers that are available today. We test our templates across dozens of email clients and computer and mobile device setups to make them as consistent as possible, but there will always be differences in how different programs display the same content from device to device.


What To Do About It

On the extreme end, you can send the email as plain text or entirely as an image, but that's not recommended. Even without going that far, you can send HTML email, as long as you keep your formatting simple: as a rule, don't use any CSS elements (if you're not sure what those are, either ask your web designer or simply don't worry about it).

If you keep things simple, Outlook users shouldn't notice anything out of the ordinary.

Alternately, provide users automatically with a link to view your email as a web page. This allows you to use HTML email templates and other advanced styling features, while still giving users of mail clients that don't support those features an option to see your messages as they were meant to be seen.

What if I have issues designing my messages?

Custom Template Design information

AWeber offers hundreds of templates you’re welcome to use! If you would ever find yourself wanting to modify an existing template or would like a custom template built for you to reflect your branding, our Template Team would be happy to modify existing templates or design a custom template for you!

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