NOTE: I haven't updated this page in quite a while, so the email
program version numbers are ancient. But Microsoft has continued
to screw with everyone else's email formats, so the essence of this
page is still true.
One of the newest and potentially most useful
in email is the ability to enhance text with tables, columns, and other
fancy formatting; with colors;
and other niftythings.
Unfortunately, we have to be
careful about using these text enhancements
because the various email programs don't agree on how to communicate
formats and styles. Thus a message that looks really good in one email
program may be less than satisfactory when read in another. The problem
is more complicated when a message is addressed to several recipients,
and it may be best to use no enhancements at all.
The only way to be sure of how your message
look to its recipient is to ask that recipient. Or
first send a brief test message that contains the enhancements you want
to use and ask the recipient to tell you which of them he or she
I keep a test message in my "Sent" folder and just send a copy of it
I need to.
Fortunately, however, it's possible to predict how certain email
will interact. For example, at this writing, the two popular
programs that have useful formatting and styling abilities are Netscape
Communicator 4 and Eudora Pro 3. They can each recognize some of
the other's effects, but definitely not all of them. Here's
a comparison of their email enhancement capabilities:
- Netscape uses ONLY standard HTML commands for formatting and
Netscape email looks right when viewed in a web browser or in email
that can display HTML commands correctly.
- Eudora Pro 3 uses a proprietary system for many of its
and styling effects, so most other email programs ignore them. Eudora
Pro 3's text colors, for example, do not show up in Netscape.
Oddly, Eudora 3 recognizes many HTML commands, even though it
most of them in its own messages. Most of Netscape's
text formatting commands do not show up in Eudora 3, nor
Netscape's default text color setting. (Eudora 3 Lite displays
messages the same as Eudora Pro 3 does, but it can't insert
in outgoing messages.)
- Eudora Pro 4 uses mostly standard HTML, but not entirely, so a
tricks don't work right in other email programs. However, it can
display most--but not all--standard HTML commands in messages it
- Eudora 4.3 installation
I installed the beta version, it screwed up my Netscape user
file (prefs.js) so badly that Netscape's Messenger would no longer
I had to use a backup copy in order to get it working again. I
know whether the release version of Eudora 4.3 does this--but if you
it, be careful!
- Microsoft's Outlook displays standard HTML pretty well,
several non-standard codes in outgoing messages, causing them to behave
oddly in other email programs, especially when Outlook messages are
in Netscape. (This is typical of Microsoft applications.
for example, is made to frustrate WordPerfect users.) Outlook
is the "lite" version of Outlook and seems to behave similarly.
If you're looking for advice on which email program to use--well, we
have our own favorites. However, I think it's safe to say that
Communicator 4 email is the most reliable because
- UPDATE: Outlook
messages that are quoted in Netscape Messenger look fine--until you
them or save them. Then they get reformatted into one single
Why? Because Outlook uses a non-standard method to format
Netscape recognizes the code, but doesn't use it--so the
Outlook paragraphs collapse into one. WORKAROUND:
Before sending or saving a Netscape message with an Outlook quotation,
go through the quotation, adding hard returns between the quoted
Then Save your message. That will show you how it will look when
it's sent, and you can make any other changes that are needed.
The pages linked below describe in more detail which features of these
programs are compatible, and which are not.
- it uses only standard HTML
- it never inserts any non-standard codes into its messages
- it provides by far the best control over messages and the widest
of editing choices
- it doesn't do anything sneaky.
Netscape 4 v. Eudora Pro 3
Netscape 4 v. Eudora Pro 4
Netscape v Outlook and Outlook Express
Please send corrections, suggestions,
(Please type it into the "To:" box of an email message.)