How to Create HTML Emails in Outlook: Expert Tips

Read time: 13 min
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How to Create HTML Emails in Outlook: Expert Tips
Try Publicate For Free Today
Read time: 13 min

There are certain things you want to use Outlook for (such as your day-to-day emails) and as a calendar of your day’s events. Although the plain text emails are easy to send, there are some features that quickly become tedious to create, such as HTML emails in Outlook.

In this article, we’re going to share how you’d go about creating HTML emails in Outlook. However, you’ll quickly see that it’s not for the faint of heart. As a solution, we’ll uncover how an email builder like Publicate can save you time and energy to accomplish the same outcome.

Guide Index
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What is an HTML email?

First things first, let’s define what an HTML email is. HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language, and it is the standard way for documents to be displayed in web browsers or any HTML reader.

HTML emails have all the extra bells and whistles that a plain text email doesn’t, such as color, style, multimedia, and images.

HTML emails are pleasant to read and eye-catching. Typically, companies that wish to send out external marketing emails or internal communications newsletters will turn to HTML emails so that they are nicely designed.

What are the Benefits of an HTML Email?

If you’re thinking, “I could just send my message as plain text instead of spending time on designing an HTML email,” think again! There are various reasons why sending an HTML email is beneficial to your business.

A few of the advantages include:

  • The opportunity to create visual appealing communications
  • Easy way to showcase links and drive action
  • Option to elicit interaction from recipients
  • Better control over information presentation

Think about it like this – if you’re sending an email in the first place, you have something of value to communicate. And, more likely than not, there’s more than just one point you’d want to be making.

But, if you’re going to slab everything together in one lengthy and copy-heavy plain text email, then people are going to feel overwhelmed and hit delete.

Instead, you can use an email builder like Publicate to design egngaging, professional and clean emails from existing pre-built templates. By doing so, you can break up your text with content hierarchy, multimedia, and call-to-actions and help lead your recipients’ eyes to what you want them to focus on.

What are the Types of Message Formats?

Of course, we don’t mean to say that plain text emails are useless. They surely serve their purpose, too. That’s why they are the most ubiquitous type of email format in use.

Here’s a look at types of message formats you may have already created yourself or received from other senders.


As mentioned, HTML email is the default for Outlook. It provides the ability to create emails that look like documents, with the inclusion of different fonts, bulleted and numbered lists, and colors. Plus, the addition of photos.

2. Plain Text

Plain text will work in any email service provider, but you don’t have the option to add fonts, colors, or any type of text formatting. It is a straight copy onto a background.

Plain text formatting doesn’t allow the inclusion of any type of pictures within the message’s body itself; however, you do have the option to include photos as attachments.

3. Rich Text Format

Rich text format (RTF) is supported by all versions of Outlook and Microsoft Exchange Client versions 4.0 and 5.0. RTF can only be used for those utilizing Microsoft Exchange. If not, Outlook will convert RTF messages to HTML automatically.

How to Create an HTML Email?

When you’re crafting a new message or want HTML emails in Outlook, here’s how you can accomplish that:

1. Create the HTML from Scratch

Doing it all yourself will obviously require that you understand some HTML and CSS programming language. You’ll need an application where you can type in HTML code in sequential lines.

Then, you have to break it down by the body and main table. Add in your design for the email header and structure. Lastly create the content areas to add all your engaging copy. Don’t forget to change the email footer’s style and style the overall text.

Once you’ve done all this, you still have to be sure to test the email across device screens of different sizes and different email service providers to ensure it’s rendering how you wish.

2. Use Outlook

If you’re looking to create an HTML email without having to code anything, then you could do so in Outlook. However, you will be somewhat limited in your styling options. We’ll jump into the nitty gritty details of how you can use Outlook for HTML in the next section.

3. Use an Email Builder

Since the first option requires coding and time, and the second option is limited, you could now be asking yourself about how to create HTML emails in Outlook without constraints.

The answer lies in an HTML email builder like Publicate. Publicate is an easy-to-use tool with drag-and-drop capability. All you need to do is pick from a hundreds of professional and engaging templates and then customize the content.

It takes just a few minutes and you don’t need any coders or designers. It boasts plenty of key features, including analytics, content modules, and saved brand kits.

You can use Publicate to send out any of your internal and external communications, including: new employee announcements, training and development courses, wellness tips, upcoming events, and more.

Since you don’t have to worry about formatting or styling, you can allocate all your time towards the message itself. Plus, Publicate integrates directly with Outlook, so once your designed email is ready to send, you can simply export it to Outlook where you’ll find it waiting for you in your email drafts.

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How to Create HTML Emails in Outlook?

Now, it’s time to take a look at how to create HTML emails in Outlook, as well as see how it can quickly become cumbersome to go down this route.

1. Open Outlook

Start by opening Outlook on your desktop or the web-based version in your browser.

2. Navigate to Tools

Locate the “Tools'' menu and select “Options.” A window dialogue box will appear in which you’ll want to select the “Mail Format” tab.

3. Set HTML Format

From the dropdown menu, choose “HTML” and click apply. Save your settings. And, when you’re done using HTML formatting, remember to go revert your settings back.

4. Compose your Email

Go back to Outlook and hit “New” to compose a new email using an HTML template. At this point, you can enter your content and select images to include.

5. Send your Email

Once your HTML email is complete, you can select the “Page by email” option from your “Send” menu. This allows you to check that your formatting has been saved.

The downside is that if you’re adding multimedia, such as images, it could throw off your structure. You’ll need to make sure that everything is aligned and at the right size.

Furthermore, there’s no knowing whether or not the email is going to appear properly across every email service provider, unless you take the time to test it thoroughly.

Alternatively, you can use Publicate, which is stacked with features such as a multimedia library and even a built-in image editor. So, you can add images into your HTML emails and adjust them on the spot with a visual review of it all.

Why Do Outlook Emails Not Always Display Correctly?

Perhaps you’ve already gone down the HTML emails in Outlook route and have encountered some issues. Outlook renders emails differently across its own different versions.

For example, if you’re using a desktop version of Outlook and it’s from before 2013, then it’s going to be relying on using Word’s rendering engine. Naturally, it’s outdated, and therefore, has trouble interpreting modern CSS and HTML coding.

How Does Outlook Break HTML Emails?

Outlook can also break HTML emails, which means that the format you designed or had in mind doesn’t actually show up in the end as planned.

A few ways Outlook ends up doing this is by:

  • Adding white lines to emails
  • Ignoring margins and padding so everything appears jumbled and too close together
  • Ignoring link styling so your link may not stand out from the rest of your text
  • Resizing images that aren’t native in Outlook which can throw off your whole email
  • Ignoring an item’s width or height
  • Aligning your email in strange ways so words, sections, and images are out of whack

Even if this list isn’t complete, it should be enough of a red flag to cause some concern. This is especially true if you are in the business of sending out mass communications, whether internally or externally.

How to Create HTML Emails with Publicate?

The simplest way to create HTML emails is to use Publicate. Publicate’s workflow is straightforward and enables anyone, without any need for a designer or coder, to create and send HTML emails in Outlook (or another preferred email service provider like Gmail).

1. Design HTML Email

When you open Publicate, you have the option to build your own HTML email design or use an existing template. Once you make your selection, your canvas will appear with all the tools you need to visually edit and customize your content.

2. Create HTML Email

Now, all you have to do is add your text, set your color and branding, and insert multimedia or images. Publicate has a multimedia library, stocked with thousands of royalty-free images to choose from, or you can upload your own.

3. Export HTML Email to Outlook

Once everything looks ready, it’s time to export your HTML email to Outlook by clicking the option to export to Outlook.

Its integrated plug-in makes it possible to choose your email right inside of Outlook itself, making sending as seamless and easy as it is to send a regular email in Outlook.

And, once you do hit send, you can track how your email is performing as Publicate provides detailed analytics to help improve your engagement success with every send.

What are Tips for Creating HTML Emails?

No matter how you create your HTML emails or send them out, keep in mind these best practices:

  • Keep it simple
  • Balance copy and graphic elements
  • Don’t make the email too heavy as to slow down load time
  • Test it out so you’re sure it will render well across device sizes (Publicate’s templates are all responsive already)
  • Remain true to your branding and tone of voice
  • Take time to craft a clever subject line
  • Use an email builder like Publicate for professional engaging emails that follow all best practices and saves your team valuable time.

Wrap Up

The ability to send HTML emails in Outlook is a key option to have at your fingertips. While you can build one from scratch or through Outlook, you’ll end up having to spend more time on a task that should be as simple as creating a plain text email.

With an email builder like Publicate, all the hassle and worry goes out the window. You instantly have the design tools you need at your disposal, without having to know how to code or design.

With hundreds of fully customizable and professional emails to choose from, you can save time and create engaging emails every time. Try it for yourself for free!