One of the first things many people do, when they find that Outlook will let them use different fonts and stationery in their emails, is to start experimenting.
While personal friends may think these are cute, we quickly realize that many others don’t want to all the glitz and glitter — they read emails and mailing lists for information. In some cases, the email programs display all the formatting codes in addition to the text we wrote, so the message effectively becomes unreadable. By the way, Outlook formats these emails using HTML (the language of web browsers like Internet Explorer) by default.
Fortunately, Outlook allows us to easily switch between HTML-formatted email (the default), Rich-Text-formatted emails (let’s just say that it’s best to ignore this option — it seems to be the worst of both worlds), and Plain Text.
If you send most of your emails to people who like HTML-formatted emails, and if you’re willing to accept the complaints when you send HTML-formatted emails to people who don’t want HTML email, you can change the formatting type of individual emails.
Why do many people not want HTML-formatted emails? It’s not just the glitz and glamour. The real issue is that HTML-formatted emails are displayed using Internet Explorer. Over the years, many computers have become infected via HTML emails and IE’s security weaknesses.
To change an individual email, the first step to open the email and find the formatting pull-down option box.
Click on the down-pointing triangle at the right-hand side of the option box. The available options will be displayed; HTML, Rich Text, and Plain Text.
Word will open a dialog box to warn you that any text you’ve entered will be reformatted as plain text. In other words, you don’t have to make this choice before starting the email — you can write the email and then change the setting before you send it.
Even if you’ve entered nothing so far, the formatting has been set and will be cleared. If you don’t want to see the warning again, click the "DOn’t show ths dialog box again" checkbox. Click Continue.
Now, you get the message window again, so you can write your message.
Finally, you can set Outlook 2003’s configuration to use “Plain Text” all the time for emails (unless you override the setting in the individual email).
On Outlook’s menu bar, click Tools > Options, then click the Mail Format tab. Change the setting from HTML to Plain Text.
Don’t bother picking a font or stationery type, since these are only pertinent in HTML and Rich Text emails. In fact, when you select Plain Text, the Font and Stationery options will be greyed-out and unavailable.
That’s it. You can change individual emails and you can change the default setting.
Now, you can use fancy fonts and stationery in personal emails and you can use plain text in mailing lists where plain text is preferred, recommended or demanded.