Formatting Tips for HTML Email
is a source of frustration to a great number of Developers
and Web Marketers around the world. When you consider AOL
you have to remember that you are not just dealing with
a custom web browser, but you are also dealing with the
manner in which AOL runs their Network.
AOL's browser is basically just a custom "skin"
or "branded" version of Internet Explorer. It
is the AOL proxy server that makes the web browser behave
differently than through a normal dial-up or LAN connection.
Two primary reasons for these differences involve how AOL
processes graphics and handles caching.
One of These Things is not Like
Another common complaint is that images can often look blurry
on AOL's Browser and in many cases have black bars, distortion,
or lines running through your graphics.
America Online utilizes a compression software on any
graphics which run on their network in order to speed up
the delivery of web pages & HTML to it's members. It
accomplished this by compressing images and various multimedia
applications which run across it's network. AOL uses the
proprietary Johnson-Grace image format .ART. All images
that are BMP, GIF or JPG are automatically converted into
the ART format by default. An AOL member must deselct the
"Use Compressed Graphics" option under their Web
Preferences in order to avoid this.
Cache Me if you Can!
One you've selected not to use AOL's compressed graphics
option, then you still must clear out your cahe in order
to see any sort of difference. In your WWW preferences you
can set your history to "0" pages and then clear
the History. After you do this, then you must also delete
the files in your Temporary Internet Files folder. AOL offers
the follwing instruction on how to accomplish this:
"By holding down
the "Control" key on your keyboard and simultaneously
mouse-clicking on the Browser Reload icon while the browser
window is active will also clear your proxy cache and
display the latest data from the website."
Some Background Information!
Often, backgrounds used in designing both HTML Email &
Webpages will display as "tiled" when viewed in
the AOL environment. This is due to the compression algorithim
which is used by the the Johnson-Grace compression software.
A JPG which is wider than 640 pixels will be scaled down
by AOL. You may use a GIF as a replacement for large background
JPG's, or try to save your JPG as "Progressive 3-pass"
which the current version of the Johnson-Grace software
does not recognize.
It's Own Format
Character formatting is only mildly supported by AOL. In
order to format your email for AOL and get an idea of how
your email will look to AOL recipients, you should start
by eliminating all of the hard returns at the end of each
Justify my Paragraph
All paragraphs are left justified and have no indentation.
There should be 2 spaces between each sentence as it provides
white space. Every place you want to indicate a hard return,
place <BR> at the beginning of the next line. For
paragraphs, use <BR><BR>, not <P> at the
beginning of the line. There should be no space between
the <BR> and the first character of the line.
Do not use <BLOCKQUOTE>, the tab key, <CITATION>,
or other tab formatting methods. You will not like what
you see, or what your recipient will see for that matter.
It is far better to just use spaces whenever you wish to
create an indentation or tab.
You may use your normal character emphasis tags as you think
are neccessary for your mailing & message.(<I>,
Bulleted, Ordered and Unordered
Unfortuanately, you cannot create lists using the traditional
<UL> or <OL>, Unordered & Unordered List
tags. The common workaround seems to be to simply put your
number, followed by several spaces.
For bulleted lists, you merely need to replace the above
numbers with an asterisk or other ASCII character.
* So on..
' And so forth..
"Don't Quote me on this..."
Quotes and Apostrophes do not translate well into AOL Email.
When entering these types of characters into AOL Email,
be sure to usee ASCII Low characters. Furthermore, if you
are using a program like Microsoft Word or other Office
product to prepare your text/HTML before entering it into
your mailing, you should be aware of Office's Autoformatting
If you cut and paste from Microsoft Word, there is always
a chance that some formatting will not carry over into HTML
very well. This is most often seen in the case of Auto formatting,
when MS Word converts common keystrokes into symbols. -,
"", © and a host of others. These are called
Windows Characters, and are not interpreted by your browser.
Word represents these ASCI characters as numeric values
which a browser cannot understand.
This is why it is best to always work in text mode, or
save your document as a dos text document and lose all formatting
before transferring it to your HTML email.
Strange characters may inadvertenly wind up being inserted
into your Email if you do not use a text-only editor such
as Notepad or TextPad.
For more information see: HTML
Email: An Introduction
Isn't That Special
You will need to treat all special characters, those which
are generated through an escpae sequence (™ )
as plain text. There is not currently a known workaround
for getting special characters into your AOL Emails effectively.
For more information on AOL issues visit: http://webmaster.info.aol.com/
Marketing Today, Issue 97, March 1, 2001
||Attention Web Developers! Do you
need more clients for your business? Do you need to
make more money? Proposal
Kit helps you demonstrate that you are the right
professional for your customers.
Design Group is a coalition of web designers, marketers,
artists, animators, and other hired guns who work in the
start-up arena. Sometimes cheap, sometimes for free, always
getting the job done. If you can find them, maybe you can
hire them....just like the A-Team..grrrr
Proposals, Bids, and other Forms
Cards by Cyber-i,
2001. All Rights Reserved.