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Notes on Plain Text vs. HTML Mail

Contra HTML mail

  • Ecological madness
  • High complexity
    • Harder to develop, hence more expensive
    • Handling more likely to break (e.g. Kaputte Zitate im Plain-Text von Gmail)
    • Less transparent; errors are harder to debug (for users and developers)
    • Higher hurdle for first time users (e.g. for newsletters)
  • Security hazards (cf. security bug fixes of main mail programs such as Security Advisories for Thunderbird)
  • Privacy hazards (e.g. HTML is used to track users)
  • Content more likely to be falsely categorized as spam etc.
  • Some automated systems (e.g. mailing lists) do not accept HTML and will reject messages, or use only the alternative plain text part, or convert the HTML potentially causing formatting issues.
  • Reduced accessibility
  • Double effort (HTML and text need to be formatted and checked)
  • Little guarantee that messages will be shown as intended
  • More distractions (e.g. font selectors, emoji buttons)

Pro HTML mail

  • Formatting text
  • Ability to create "rich" content (forms, graphs, animations, ...)

Contra plain text mail

  • Text wrapping issues if lines are hard-wrapped (not format=flowed) (e.g. on mobile devices with small screens)
  • Text formatted for fixed width fonts might get distorted
  • Some content is better sent as attachment (e.g. illustrations)

Pro plain text mail

  • Easy, small, ecologically friendly (compared to HTML mail)
  • Text is shown by all devices and programs
  • Accessibility as good as it gets


html-mail-vs-plain-text.1509316130.txt.gz · Last modified: 2017-10-29 23:28 by andreas