Employee Newsletters

Outlook Rendering Issues: 6 Tips to Create HTML Email Newsletters in Outlook


By Ted Goas


Have you ever googled “how to send HTML email in Outlook” or “how to create HTML email in Outlook”? If you’ve ever experienced Outlook rendering issues when sending responsive HTML emails, this blog is for you.

When it comes to coding and sending HTML emails in Outlook, things can get super complicated. It can be hard to make your emails look good in Outlook.

Outlook will usually take email templates you worked so hard on and render them with broken links, missing pictures, and misaligned layouts.

How can you ensure your email renders properly in Outlook despite all its quirks? For your internal communications, using a dedicated internal email template builder like ContactMonkey eliminates HTML-related headaches when sending within Outlook.

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6 Tips to Eliminate Outlook Rendering Issues & Create HTML Email Newsletters in Outlook

Sending HTML email in Outlook isn’t for the faint of heart. Having a knowledge of HTML will help, but not every Outlook user has time to learn a brand new (coding) language.

If you’re here trying to fix common HTML problems within Outlook, we highly recommend trying ContactMonkey for your internal newsletters. Avoid errors sending responsive HTML emails and save time and effort on your internal communications easily with ContactMonkey.

But back to the HTML issues…

1. Include CSS resets for Outlook rendering issues

Just like when developing for the web, it’s a good idea to provide a reset CSS for emails to help normalize how code gets rendered and prevent any unwanted styling in email clients. CSS reset code should be added in a few places.

The <head> reset

Adding a few CSS properties in the email <head>’s <style> tag will reset most of Outlook’s unwanted default styles.


   /* Remove space around the email design. */


   body {

       margin: 0 auto !important;

       padding: 0 !important;

       height: 100% !important;

       width: 100% !important;


   /* Stop Outlook resizing small text. */

   * {

       -ms-text-size-adjust: 100%;


   /* Stop Outlook from adding extra spacing to tables. */


   td {

       mso-table-lspace: 0pt !important;

       mso-table-rspace: 0pt !important;


   /* Use a better rendering method when resizing images in Outlook IE. */

   img {



 /* Prevent Windows 10 Mail from underlining links. Styles for underlined links should be inline. */

   a {

       text-decoration: none;



A CSS reset in the email’s <head> is a good start, but adding a few more reset styles inline in the email body’s markup will ensure consistent rendering in Outlook.

The <body> reset

Adding a few reset styles in the <body> tag will ensure consistent spacing and text line-height in Outlook.

<body width=“100%” style=“margin: 0; padding: 0 !important; mso-line-height-rule: exactly;”>

The <table> reset

Adding inline attributes to all table tags will remove Outlook’s default spacing and borders on each individual table:

<table role=“presentation” cellspacing=“0” cellpadding=“0” border=“0”>

Including these resets will ensure Outlook does not add any unwanted styles to your email designs.

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2. Stick to tables when creating Outlook HTML email templates

Using tables for layouts isn’t a good practice in the web world, but it’s still good practice in the email world… especially for supporting Outlook.

Most Outlook versions don’t support the box model or things like flexbox, CSS Grid, and floats. This lack of CSS support makes it hard to use semantic HTML to build email layouts that display properly in Outlook.

While most web browsers could display this HTML in two columns, Outlook would display each column div as its own row. ?


<div style=”width; 50%; display: inline-block;”>Column 1</div>

<div style=”width; 50%; display: inline-block;”>Column 2</div>


To ensure these two columns appear side by side in Outlook, it’s best to use tables:

<table role=“presentation” cellspacing=“0” cellpadding=“0” border=“0”>


<td>Column 1</td>

<td>Column 2</td>



Embracing tables for layouts might seem antiquated but it’s the most reliable way to get predictable email rendering in Outlook. If you’d like to avoid using tables all together then we recommend you pay careful attention to the next point.

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3. Use ContactMonkey’s drag-and-drop email template builder

The tips above are most useful if you’re learning how to code HTML emails for Outlook. If you’d like an easier way to build employee newsletter templates, particularly employee newsletters or create stunning email templates for Outlook, check out ContactMonkey’s email template builder.

ContactMonkey is an internal communications solution that works with your existing Outlook account. It allows your team to create, send, and track emails while measuring their performance.

When you use ContactMonkey in Outlook, your emails will look exactly how you designed them because you’re designing in Outlook.

Here’s how it works:

Within ContactMonkey’s internal communications tool, click “Design HTML”. You will be taken to ContactMonkey’s in-browser email template builder. Create your newsletter templates using the drag-and-drop template builder. Simply drag the content you want from the sidebar onto your template to create a beautiful email newsletter.

email builder for outlook rendering issues

ContactMonkay is great for teams. With email collaboration, You can have multiple users working on a single template and track their progress just like on Google docs  You can also choose from one of our pre-made templates.

internal communications screenshot

Your completed newsletter templates will appear in the ContactMonkey sidebar within Outlook. Simply click “Insert” and your custom template will appear in your Outlook message window, ready to send.

mail merge - outlook rendering issues

You’ve just created great-looking email newsletter without having to do any HTML coding with ContactMonkey. Now wasn’t that easy?

4. Use bulletproof buttons for responsive HTML email templates in Outlook

If you’re building templates for Outlook—particularly email templates or newsletter templates—you need to use bulletproof buttons.

Bulletproof buttons allow you to build buttons with code instead of images, making them accessible and easy to maintain.

Calls-to-action are critical in getting people to interact with your emails, and bulletproof buttons ensure that your CTAs are displayed, even if the recipient has email images disabled.

Outlook doesn’t recognize link tags as block elements, so we can’t just style an <a href=””> tag by itself.

Instead, we have to wrap the link in a <table> and duplicate a few CSS properties to ensure the button looks like a button in Outlook.


<table role=“presentation” cellspacing=“0” cellpadding=“0” border=“0”>


       <td style=“border-radius: 4px; background: #0077cc;”>

            <a class=“button-a button-a-primary” href=“https://www.contactmonkey.com/” style=“background: #0077cc; font-family: sans-serif; font-size: 15px; line-height: 15px; text-decoration: none; padding: 13px 17px; color: #ffffff; border-radius: 4px;”>Button text</a>




This is one of a few ways to achieve bulletproof buttons in Outlook.

Both Litmus and Campaign Monitor have done deep dives on bulletproof email buttons, including versions that use Vector Markup Language (VML) to draw gradients in Windows Outlook.

If you’re using buttons to gather feedback from your recipients, you may be better off using an email tool like ContactMonkey. Using our employee pulse survey tool, you can embed surveys into your emails that your employees can answer directly from their inbox.

With ContactMonkey, you can send surveys using your company’s distribution lists to maximize response rates. If you don’t have distribution lists set up, you can easy learn how to make a distribution list in Outlook.

5. Include system fonts when learning how to code HTML email for Outlook

All computers come pre-installed with a limited number of system fonts. Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, Georgia being some of the most common ones.

Web fonts allow designers to get creative with their typography, allowing them to choose from a large number of web fonts for their designs.

Not every version of Outlook supports web fonts, so it’s important to have a fallback system font defined for those versions where web fonts don’t display.

Since some versions of Outlook don’t support web fonts, we should include system fonts behind the web font in the font stack.


 <link href=“https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Roboto” rel=“stylesheet”>


<p style=”font-family: Roboto, arial, sans-serif”>

This text will be displayed in Roboto within email clients that support web fonts (like Outlook for Mac) and Arial in email clients that don’t (like Windows Outlook 2010-2019).


Including system fonts in an email’s font stack as a fallback ensures that everyone sees consistent (though not identical) typography.

Whew! Outlook can be frustrating, but it doesn’t need to be. With ContactMonkey you can avoid all these issues when sending your HTML emails. It’s really easy to use, and you can see ContactMonkey in action by booking a free demo here:

6. Bulletproof foreground images for Outlook rendering issues

Many versions of Outlook block images by default, only downloading them if a user requests they be downloaded.

We can’t force images to automatically download and display, but we can optimize the email experience when images aren’t displayed.

<img src=“https://cdn.website.com/path/to/image.png” width=“600” height=“” alt=“alt_text” border=“0” style=“width: 100%; max-width: 600px; height: auto; background: #dddddd; font-family: sans-serif; font-size: 15px; line-height: 15px; color: #555555; display: block;”>

There’s a lot going on there, let’s break it down:

  1. Using absolute paths (instead of relative paths) ensures our images can be downloaded. We have to host an image somewhere public so any email client can access them.
  2. Using either .png, .jpg, or .gif file formats ensures our image can be displayed in every major email client, including all versions of Outlook. While formats like WebP and SVG have good support in web browsers, they are not well supported in email clients.
  3. Specifying image widths using the width, max-width, and height ensures our images display at the proper size on desktop and scale down on mobile. In the example above, the image displays at a maximum of 600px (like on Windows Outlook), but scales down proportionally on mobile (like iOS Outlook).
  4. Using border=”0” removes unwanted borders on emails.
  5. Using display: block; removes unwanted gaps beneath images.
  6. Specifying alt text to provides contextual information about our images, especially handy when Outlook blocks images from automatically displaying. We can also style blocked images with CSS properties like background-color, font-family, font-size, and color.

Apply What You’ve Learned

Creating a responsive email template in Outlook or sending a responsive HTML email template in Outlook can be tricky: email addresses may not display properly or background images or HTML attributes or tags may not appear correctly.

These are some of the other problems associated with rendering emails properly in Outlook. This Microsoft Office email client isn’t exactly known for being HTML-code-friendly or email-developer-friendly. We recommend using a remote teams communication tool like ContactMonkey to avoid HTML-related email problems.

See how much better life is with ContactMonkey.

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So even after sticking to the best practices and tips mentioned above, it goes without saying you need to test your email templates to make sure that nothing breaks. Some tools where you can test your templates:

Are you fed up experiencing rendering problems when creating HTML emails in Outlook? Do you want an easier way to create beautiful HTML email newsletters? ContactMonkey’s email template builder is a powerful tool that will transform your internal communications tool. Book your free demo to try it yourself!

Want to improve your internal communications and employee engagement massively?