Email vs. Web HTML

There’s a difference between web and email HTML - email HTML is more limited and can’t support some common elements you may be used to using on your website.

Through this article, we’ll clarify which types of HTML elements you can use in your emails and which types won’t work.

Using HTML in Email

Web browsers display interactive, dynamic content, and they update often. However, interactive elements like Flash, JavaScript, or HTML forms won't work in most email inboxes.

View the following table to learn more:

Safe to UseUse With CautionDo Not Use
  • Static, Table-Based Layouts
  • HTML Tables and Nested Tables
  • Template Width of 600px-800px
  • Simple, Inline CSS
  • Web Safe Fonts
  • Background Images
  • Custom Web Fonts
  • Wide Layouts
  • Image Maps
  • Embedded CSS
  • JavaScript
  • <iframe>
  • Flash
  • Embedded Audio
  • Embedded Video
  • Forms
  • <div> Layering

 

What's Safe to Use

Static, table-based layouts, HTML and nested tables, and templates with widths of 600px-800px are all safe to use for your emails. You can also use simple, inline CSS as well as various web safe fonts. These include:

  • Arial (sans-serif)
  • Verdana (sans-serif)
  • Helvetica (sans-serif)
  • Tahoma (sans-serif)
  • Trebuchet MS (sans-serif)
  • Times New Roman (serif)
  • Georgia (serif)
  • Garamond (serif)
  • Courier New (monospace)
  • Brush Script MT (cursive)

Use With Caution

You can use certain elements for your email templates, but not all email clients support these types of elements. That's why we highly recommend that you preview and test it first before you send it to your audience. Some elements that you should use with caution are: 

  • Background Images
  • Custom Web Fonts
  • Wide Layouts
  • Image Maps
  • Embedded CSS

Animated GIFs

While some email clients don't support animated GIFs, you can try and include one in your campaign by inserting it directly from Giphy.

What You Can't Use

Some elements are blocked by almost all major email clients. These are what you shouldn't use for your campaign since it has either limited or even nonexistent support.

JavaScript

JavaScript is a programming language designed to make interactive web content. While it's commonly used in websites, a majority of email clients block scripts since they can be used to hide malicious content.

You can try using GIFs instead to make your content more engaging.

Iframe Elements

An <iframe> (inline frame) is an HTML element that embeds content from one website into another, usually used to insert advertisements, video, audio, or forms in other websites. This often contains scripts, so most email clients block them.

An alternative for this is to link to the content you want to display in your email.

Flash

Flash displays animations and graphics on websites, but most email clients block it.

You can use GIFs for your email instead.

HTML Forms

Some email clients can display forms, but since the submit button often requires JavaScript, your supporters won't be able to submit them.

You can insert a link to a web form in your email as an alternative. You can also use a simple poll to gather responses from your subscribers. Here's a great article from Mailchimp about adding a simple poll or survey to your email campaign.

Embedded Media

Unless your supporters' email clients support HTML5 <video> and <audio> tags, autoplay and click-to-play media won't work in an inbox. As of now, only Apple Mail supports these tags, so it's best to avoid using embedded media. 

As an alternative, you can share a video player link or an audio file link if it's audio-only.


If you have any questions, your Success Team is here for you every step of the way! Get support by sending us an email.