Formatting issue - email does not look like preview.

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Occasional Participant

Formatting issue - email does not look like preview.

I'm having major difficulties getting the format in my meeting invite correct.  I always spend too much time changing font sizes and adding spaces only to have them revert or change to something completely different a couple of saves down the line.  The text editor has a mind of its own!  However -  the big issue is the resulting email.  Once I get the email looking the way it should in the preview, I send out a test email and open it in Outlook and its all jacked up again. 

 

How do I fix this?  I can't send the current email out to colleagues without looking like a moron. 

 

Thanks,

Shelley Broyles

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Marketing Advisor

Hi there, 

When using our Second Generation Editor (2GE) sometimes what you are designing may not be the same design and layout that gets sent out to your contacts.

 

Email programs and mobile devices have unique ways of displaying emails. So, the email design your contacts see may not exactly match what you see when you preview it in Constant Contact which I know can be frustrating. These issues typically arise when you are copying an email multiple times as the HTML code for all of your edits from previous versions may cause these display issues. We recommend creating a new email, in this case, to make sure that you are starting fresh. If you use the same layout for all of your emails you can use the Save as template feature so that your edits to the design of the email will be saved and you can still create a new email to help avoid any display issues. Here’s more info on that.

 

Please see this FAQ with these design tips and you can make your email look better in all email programs (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.):  http://conta.cc/2lkiaQZ

Always preview your email before sending whether you are using 2GE or 3GE.  I hope that helps! 

 

 

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575 REPLIES 575
Regular Participant

When I create my email, everything looks great.  Then when I receive it, and open it in outlook, it still looks great.  But when I open it in my hotmail account, EVERYTHING is underlined, like it is a hyperlink.  Any suggestions on how to fix this?
Occasional Participant

I am new to using Constant Contact and was told by a person in the office that they couldn't see the backgrounds and title bars in a recent message I sent out. I did some searching and found that the HTML handling in Outlook 2007 does not display background images that have text superimposed on top. Discussions on that topic aside, I did not want to pick a different template and was determined to find a fix.

I found two. They are relatively simple, but they work.

The easiest is to open the Advanced editor and then in the left menu, click the Style link (leave as much of the native code as is - removing the wrong parts will cause you problems). Anywhere you see a style listing that says "BACKGROUND-IMAGE:... replace that with BACKGROUND-COLOR: #xxxxxx; (replace the xx's with your HTML color) and make sure to leave the semi-colon.

The second more involved process is to stay on the HTML tab of the Advanced Editor and carefully find the TABLE tags where your header or title graphic would be and add a bgcolor="#xxxxxx" tag and then in the section where the code would automatically include your title text you need to replace that snippet with a <font> tag and your text, etc. The benefit of the second way is that Office 2007 users will see an email with colored blocks where everyone else will see the email the way it was intended. Here is a brief example of the Newsletter Title part:

Constant Contact Generated code (for the particular template I was using):
        <td class="HeaderBG" colspan="1" height="110" rowspan="1" width="580">
            <table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%">
                <tr>
                    <td colspan="1" rowspan="1" width="30"><img height="110" src="http://img.constantcontact.com/letters/images/spacer.gif" width="30"/></td>
                    <td colspan="1" rowspan="1" valign="middle" width="382">
                        <!-- BEGIN: Title Text -->

                        <Introduction name="letter.intro" title="Introduction">
                        <IfPropertyExists name="letter.title">
                            <div class="TitleText">
                            <font class="TitleText">
                            <Property font="TitleText" name="letter.title" title="Title" type="single"/></font>                            </div>
                        </IfPropertyExists>
                        <!-- END: Title Text -->

Dirk's Edits (additions in Red Bold Italics - deletions in blue stikeout):
        <td class="HeaderBG" colspan="1" height="110" rowspan="1" width="580">
            <table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%">
                <tr>
                    <td colspan="1" rowspan="1" width="30"><img height="110" src="http://img.constantcontact.com/letters/images/spacer.gif" width="30"/></td>
                    <td bgcolor="#xxxxxx" colspan="1" rowspan="1" valign="middle" width="382">
                        <!-- BEGIN: Title Text -->

                        <Introduction name="letter.intro" title="Introduction">
                        <IfPropertyExists name="letter.title">
                            <div class="TitleText">
                            <font class="TitleText">
                            <Property font="TitleText" name="letter.title" title="Title" type="single"/></font>                            </div>
                        </IfPropertyExists>
<font face="arial" size="22" color="#000000">My Newsletter Title</font>
                        <!-- END: Title Text -->

And then you would do that for each title, sub-title, etc. through your newsletter.

If you've read this far and are going to try it, I shouldn't need to give you more pointers, but since my new keyboard can keep up with typing 120cpm - here they are:
*** Before you start, select all the HTML code and paste it into a Notepad for safe keeping (aka - Undo)

*** Select all the Style info (CSS info) off the Style tab and put that in a separate Notepad. This way when you are manually entering the Title etc. you will have a quick reference for the font sizes

*** Everyone ask Constant Contact to make an Office 2007 compatibility checkbox on their screen before sending this out to your list so that their backend would do all this for you automatically.

Thank you for your detailed posting. The topic of OutLook has been discussed across the web for some time. For anyone interested in the limitations in Outlook 2007 here is a link.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa338201.aspx

I have now stopped trying to develop decent HTML e-mails for outlook. I make a plain text version and put in a link "If you have trouble reading this click here" in the top of the e-mail. It saves me the trouble and my clients the development money.

. I do most of my work for non corporate clients and find that 90% of people that sign up for email don't use their company accounts anyway.

Whereas 55% of B2B clients use Outlook, far less under 15% of B2C do.

Regular Participant

I've created numerous emails using Constant Contact, and while I'm really enjoying the functionality, I keep having the same issue.  I design my emails and get the colors, fonts, etc. exactly as I want it.  But when I send a preview to myself and others, and do the final send, the email looks very different than how it did within this program - and never different for the better.

What is causing this change in appearance?  And how can I work through it?

That's a bit strange. You should not be seeing a difference between the preview mode ( I am assuming you are emailing the previews in addition to just looking at them, correct)

Are you previewing them on the same email client that you then see a difference with after sending them?

For the record what email clients are you using to view them in?

I did some checking, and they only appear differently when the emails are opened in an email account that is utilizing Microsoft Outlook. Is it possible that Outlook is preventing the full design from coming through? When I did a preview-send to a Gmail account the email displays exactly as I want it to. But when I send it to my work email account, which utilizes Outlook, the colors were entirely different and some graphics didn't display, even after selecting the option to download images.

I did some checking, and they only appear differently when the emails are opened in an email account that is utilizing Microsoft Outlook. Is it possible that Outlook is preventing the full design from coming through? When I did a preview-send to a Gmail account the email displays exactly as I want it to. But when I send it to my work email account, which utilizes Outlook, the colors were entirely different and some graphics didn't display, even after selecting the option to download images.

Issues with Microsoft Outlook are well documented. There are even differences between versions of Outlook.

If you send me an email I will forward you a document discussing some of the challenges of designing in Outlook.

I have found that creating the emails in Mozilla Firefox (and checking previews in same) gets me the best results in Outlook, Thunderbird, Hotmail & GMail. Creating in Explorer has been problematic. Hope that helps.

I'm struggling with the same issue, but I've narrowed the problem down to Outlook 2007, which uses Word 12 to display HTML email. Microsoft has acknowledged that it's broken but will not be fixing it. This has been confirmed by other HTML mail developers who sent over 20,000 emails to Microsoft about it. Outlook 2003, Mac Mail, GMail and Yahoo mail all work perfectly. I'll continue testing today with some CC templates instead of custom code.

I understand all my emails are showing up with centered text in IE in gmail! Justification is fine (left) when I use Firefox and gmail. I have tried two different templates with same results. Has anyone else seen this? If so, any solutions?

I use Firefox and the latest version of Safari. I am continually frustrated about the lack of continuity between what I preview and then what I am sent at delivery. Today's email wasn't even the same font or font size. The people that I am sending it to don't see this as a tool issue. Their comments are that I'm getting lazy. I hate that most of all.

Occasional Participant

I was hired by a client to build a few html templates from scratch for use in Constant Contact.  When I test them in my browser through Dreamweaver, and using the preview function in Constant Contact they look great, but I sent a test email to my Outlook and Gmail accounts and the entire message gets chopped up.  Has anyone built a template from scratch only to have it greatly distorted when it goes through an email server?  Also, did you find the solution?  Thanks.

Does it look good in other mail clients or services? i.e. Yahoo

Having a similar problem. In outlook the images don't appear in preview, need to open the email to actually have images show. Would really like the images to appear in preview.

It looks like your Email software is not loading the CSS code in. Which Email program are you using to view your test emails? Have you tried it in other Email software/services, as ChevyTalkTony asked?

Outlook 2007 has no support for CSS positioning. Ask your developer not to use CSS for that. Basically OL2007 is screwed. OL2006 used IE while the newer OL2007 uses the MS Word engine to display HTML. I'm not sure about your GMail issue though. The good news is that OL2007 presents a small footprint for the B2C audience. Here is a link to the Microsoft site where you can get the "Outlook HTML and CSS Validator." I must say I have not tried this at all. http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=0B764C08-0F86-431E-8BD5-EF0E9CE26A3A&displaylang=en

Occasional Participant

Yeah, Outlook is terrible. The only workaround is that OL users have to click on a link to open up an HTML version of the email. Gmail shows it fine as long as the person opening the email allows images to show up.

Regular Participant

Does anyone else experience a difference in the way an email lays out and looks from the preview mode to what is seen in the test email?   There is often a significant difference in the layout

Not only can it be between the preview and test emails, but it can look different in the various email clients. We generally send a test too several clients, OWA, Outlook, and various Webmails to see that it looks okay.