Don’t Forget the Text Version

Alex Gorton

When it comes to crafting emails, we tend to focus on the highly visual HTML version since this can make the largest impact on our subscribers. Bright colors and fancy images are the easiest way to grab attention of course.

But plain-text versions of email need love too.

Through the course of building the email, the text-only version tends to get overlooked; it’s a small, inconvenient part of the creation process.

Who is honestly going to see that one anyway?

Text Only Considerations

Apple Watch

When the Apple Watch launched, it helped to usher a new medium to consume loads of data in the form of a “wearable device.”

But here’s the thing — when you open an email on your svelte watch, it renders only in plain text. Did the sender ONLY included an HTML version of that email? Well then it doesn’t render anything at all.

Spam Filters

Trying to understand what a spam filter looks out for and why they flagged your email can get complicated. We have the filter tests for a reason.

One thing they definitely like to see is a plain text version sent with every HTML-based email.

Organization Policies

Work email may come down to company policy to only allow plain-text versions through to minimize the potential for harmful links being masked from their employees.

As an example, government agencies tend to allow text only, not HTML.

Some people just like them

Simply put, there are subscribers that just prefer plain text to the flashy HTML. A slew of email clients provide a way for a user to determine if they only want to receive text versions of emails.

If you only send an HTML version, they may not even receive your email.


Now that we know why we should always include plain text versions, we should also take care to format it as best we can.

The easiest way to do this is to structure the email with clear distinctions between stories, headlines, and body copy. This may be as simple as including a line of asterisks between those stories and making sure to drop your body copy under the headline with a hard return.

Be sure to include lots of white space where you can to make the email more legible and not a chore to read. Simplicity and ease garner more engagement!

It’s always important to include a formatted plain-text version of your emails. This will help to ensure you are reaching the max engagement for your efforts.

For more email design tips and ideas, check out our Digital Marketing Lookbook.

About the Author
Alex Gorton

As a Digital Marketing Designer, Alex is tasked with the creation of client templates, educating clients on design best-practices and assisting with internal marketing needs. Out of the office, Alex is an self-proclaimed adventurer, snowboarder and tinkers on his custom-built computer.