HTML Email Guidelines

The following are recommendations and best practices for creating emails on behalf of Seminole State College, its programs and departments.

Text-Format Considerations

  • Don't underline text. The convention in HTML is any underlined text is a hyperlink, and is reserved for clickable links. Using underlined text makes the content look like a clickable link and confuses users.
  • Use descriptive text for hyperlinks. Hyperlink text should describe the link destination. Never use phrases such as "click here" as your link copy.
  • Avoid ALL CAPS to highlight text. All caps is harder for sighted users to read, creates problems with dyslexic users, and screen readers will S-P-E-L-L out the word rather than reading it. Using all caps in a sentence also is associated with yelling at the user.
  • Don't use spaces to format content (e.g., trying to center text using the spacebar key on the page). It will look different on all devices.

Consult the Seminole State Writing Style Guide

For rules about proper capitalization, spelling and grammar, consult the Seminole State Writing Style Guide.

Content Considerations

  • Use photos rather than line drawings or clip art.
  • Avoid colored or busy backgrounds as they can make the content harder to read, can cause issues with individuals who are colorblind, and may reduce the professional appearance of the message.
  • Keep subject lines short and sweet. Try to keep your subject line to 50 characters or less. Most people quickly scan the subject lines in their inbox before deciding which messages are worth their time and attention. Vague teasers, constant reminders, and pleas for help are not going to cut through the inbox clutter and could be confused with spam.
  • Keep it simple when it comes to design and content. Most people have short attention spans. Instead of trying to include lengthy articles, look for opportunities to break things up into smaller chunks and link readers back to your site.
  • Factor in the "fold." Place important information first to give your message the best chance of being seen. Remember that the "fold" on webmail clients tends to be extremely high. This is even more of an issue with mobile devices.
  • Do not use a single image as your email content. Your HTML email needs a healthy balance of graphics and text. Most email programs block the automatic downloading of images by default, so your recipients will initially see a blank email and will either delete it immediately or even report you for spam.  If you're sending an email with a single graphic, you should still include text in the footer.  Make sure that when using a single image, you fill out the alt text content in the image properties for best results.
  • Use numbered lists sparingly. Avoid numbered lists unless the order/sequence of the items is important.
  • Use bulleted lists instead of "inline" comma/semicolon delimited lists. Bulleted lists are great for Web writing. Use them to make text stand out and easier to scan.

Technical Considerations

  • Don't send email to groups of people using "To" or "CC." Always "BC" groups of people, and send the email to yourself or a department email address.
  • Don't copy and paste text from Microsoft programs such as Word or Outlook. It pastes bad HTML into the code. Instead, first paste the text into a pure text editor such as Notepad (Access Notepad on your PC = Start >all programs > accessories > Notepad). Then, copy the text from Notepad, paste it into your email and format it as needed.
  • Make sure links you type as part of your text match the actual link. For example, don't type and 
    then link it to Some webmail clients will flag the message as Spam or Junk.

Final Considerations

  • Make sure your content is responsive. Your recipients could be viewing your email on almost any type of device, including a mobile phone or tablet. Take into account the layout, font size and image load times on mobile devices.
  • Test, test, test. Send the email to yourself before you send to groups. Make sure that everything loads and any hyperlinks work as they should.

If you need additional assistance with testing or implementing these technologies, contact .


Seminole State WebSupport