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Why HTML Mail is Evil

When you send an email message or a news posting using a "latest technology" web browser, the browser often sends out more than just your message. Most people see a lot of extra formatting stuff and other junk that has nothing to do with your message. It's annoying and not appropriate for mail or news, which prefer plain old ASCII text. Certainly, sending out your messages as HTML without even a plain-text alternative is just plain rude. Read on to see what's happening behind the scenes, and how you can configure your browser to send out friendly mail messages.

This is what you thought we would see when you sent your message.
This is what most people actually see when they read your message.
Click on the images for a full scale view

To stop this from happening, look for the mail composing preferences in your browser's mailer, and make sure "plain text" is chosen, and not "HTML" or "Rich Text".

In Outlook Express, in the tools menu, select options, then the Send tab, and select the "Plain Text" option. Click the "settings" button next to that, and make sure MIME is checked, Encode is "None", and "8-Bit" is checked. You should change the 80-column wrap to about 100 columns so that indented text ("in reply to" text) won't wrap. Do the same for sending news messages.

In Netscape Communicator, in the Edit menu, select preferences, then in the Mail->Formatting screen, select the plain text editor and select "Convert the message into plain text". Also, in Mail->Identity, don't check the vcard box. In Mail->Messages, don't check the "Wrap" box, and send 8-bit "as-is".


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  Copyright 1999   by DJ Delorie     Updated Mar 1999