Student E-mail HTML Guidelines

These guidelines are intended to assist you with creating e-mails formatted in HTML that can be sent to students. HTML-formatted e-mails can be complex with graphics and images or simple with bolded, italicized or centered text.

Please contact Enrollment Services Communications with questions.

E-mail Structure

  • The viewing area can be quite small, so either use a flexible, percent-based table, or else a narrow fixed table. Do not use a CSS-based layout structure, since it is likely to fail in the new version of Outlook (which uses the Word HTML rendering rather than the rendering from Explorer) and most email clients.
  • Make sure page displays okay if Microsoft viewer is turned off in Eudora. Some e-mail viewers will not see all the formatting. In extreme cases, even tables are ignored. Make sure the page linearizes properly without the tables.
  • Page title is not needed. Some Web mail packages will display the title as part of the message if it is present.
  • It is recommended to add a line to the top of your HTML file that gives users an option in case they are unable to view the HTML e-mail. For example, "Trouble viewing this e-mail? Go directly to the @State Web site:"

Graphics and Links

  • Keep graphics small (total page less than 500K, but the smaller the better) and limit text. Some ISP's block large messages.
  • Use absolute URL's for images and links. Make sure you include the http:// or the https:// as appropriate.
  • Designate links to open in a new Window (target="_blank"). Most Web-based e-mail readers use frames.


  • Embed styles within the HTML using inline styles. Do not link to or attach a style sheet. Security settings often block attached style sheets since they have been used to hide executable code.
  • Make sure page is readable without styles. Many Web-based e-mail readers ignore CSS.
  • Background colors should be set in the table (in the individual cells). Web-based e-mail may ignore styles.
  • Only use basic HTML tags (no frames, no JavaScript). Some security settings will automatically remove the message if JavaScript is detected.

Requesting HTML E-mails

  • Create a zip file of the HTML file. The only file that should be in the zip file is one HTML file. (Remember: all images have absolute URLs and CSS is embedded in the HTML.)
  • Send the Zip file to Enrollment Services Communications at the same time you submit the online request form.