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.
Email Format and Style Enhancements
Netscape Communicator
Microsoft Outlook

One of the newest and potentially most useful wrinkles in email is the ability to enhance text with tables, columns, and other fancy formatting; with colors; withdifferentfonts; 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 will 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 sees.  I keep a test message in my "Sent" folder and just send a copy of it when I need to.

Fortunately, however, it's possible to predict how certain email programs will interact.  For example, at this writing, the two popular email 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:

If you're looking for advice on which email program to use--well, we all have our own favorites.  However, I think it's safe to say that Netscape's Communicator 4 email is the most reliable because The pages linked below describe in more detail which features of these programs are compatible, and which are not.

Netscape 4 v. Eudora Pro 3
Netscape 4 v. Eudora Pro 4
Netscape v Outlook and Outlook Express

Please send corrections, suggestions, and comments to

(Please type it into the "To:" box of an email message.)

Don Maxwell.

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