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Message Formats in Outlook and When to Use Which

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Message Formats in Outlook and When to Use Which

With Outlook, you can send messages in three different formats:
  • Plain Text sends emails using just plain text characters.
    This format is great if you do not depend on any fancy formatting, and it ensures maximum compatibility. Everybody who has an email account will be able to read your message.
  • HTML lets you use HTML formatting.
    You can make text stand out with italics, for example, or change the font. You can even include pictures that will display inline and use other formatting tools to make your messages prettier and easier to read. Today, most people with email can receive HTML-formatted messages fine (although some prefer plain text for purity's sake).
  • Rich Text is Outlook's proprietary message format.
    You can use simple text formatting with it, and you must use rich text format to send meeting requests or tasks. It's best to use it only for these occasions and when you can be sure the recipient also uses Outlook because no other email client will properly display messages in Outlook's rich text format.

(Updated June 2012)

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