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Sending Plain Text Email

Email messages that include html code or attachments cause problems for the list. Please don't include files as attachments to your email. Paste the text from the file directly into your message. Some email programs automatically generate html code and/or attachments. Here is an explanation of the problem and instructions for how to avoid it.

Many of the newer email programs (Eudora, Microsoft Outlook/Outlook Express, Netscape) encourage users to send email containing multiple fonts, embedded pictures, etc. This is called such things as "rich text", "styled text", "html mail". The actual message sent will contain at least two parts. The first is a plain text version of the message, the second is the same text with embedded html tags. If there are pictures or address cards (vCards) attached, there will be more parts.

As individual messages, html mail causes few problems. The recipient's email program will display the message as sent if it is capable (and enabled), if not, it will display the plain text version and hide the html version. Some older email programs, though, will not understand the encoding and will show both the plain text and the html-encoded version of the message.

When an html email is incorporated into a list digest, it is not handled correctly. The raw html codes appear as plain text, adding garbage to the digest. Attached pictures are seen as in encoded form - long strings of letters and numbers. Those of you receiving the digest might have seen this.

It is not difficult to configure your email program to send messages to the digest as plain text. We VERY STRONGLY request all of you to make these changes so that all messages sent to the list are plain text messages.

Microsoft Outlook

If you use Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express to send email, you have two choices. You can create an entry in the Address Book for the list. On the Name tab of the Properties for this entry, there is a checkbox at the bottom left labeled "Send E-Mail using plain text only.". This box should be checked. If you already have an Address Book entry for the list, select this entry in the Address Book and then select File/Properties and then click the Name tab. If you create a new entry for the list, the Name tab will be presented to you to fill out. The other way to send plain text from Outlook is to first begin the message. Then select the Format menu and click the "Plain Text" item.


If you use Netscape email, the options are similar. In the Address Book, the Name tab of an address card has a checkbox labeled "Prefers to receive rich text (HTML) mail". This box should NOT be checked on the address card for the list. You are presented with this tab when you create a new card. If the card already exists, select it in the Address Book and then select Edit/Card properties. Alternatively, begin a new message to the list then click the "Message Sending Options" tab in the "Addressing Area" (select View/Show Addressing Area if you can't see this) and then select "Plain Text" from the Format option box.

Netscape email will add an attachment called a vCard to your messages if you tell it to. To unselect this go to the Edit/Preferences menu item, expand the Mail & Newsgroups branch and select the Identity item. Clear the check mark for "Attach my personal card to messages (as a vCard)".


If you use Eudora, select the Tools/Options menu item, then select "Styled Text". Under the "When sending mail with styled text (HTML):" heading, check the "Ask me each time" box. Uncheck the "Send the signature with styles" box. If you never want to send html mail, check the "Send plain text only" box. Alternatively, write the message to the list and before sending (or queuing) it, select all the text in the message (using CTRL-A or the Edit/Select All menu item) and then click the "Clear Formatting" button on the formatting bar. If you can't see the formatting bar, check the "Show formatting bar" box in Tools/Options/Styled Text page.