Published: 2 February, 2021

Forwarded Email Format Issues

Forwarding emails with text and some very simple graphics was never a problem in the past.

However, with the advent of responsive emails i.e. emails that look great on both mobile and tablets and desktops, any email forwarded looks dreadful. None of the formatting is preserved and the contents are borderline unreadable. Any kind of branding is completely lost.

Forwarding is something not to do if totally not required – but this is easier said than done as you are dealing with how people are using their own systems. The issue is that when the email is delivered to the inbox the HTML code is getting manipulated and displayed for that client – mobile, desktop or tablet. When the email is then forwarded the email client is taking that manipulated code (sometimes putting it inside of a “quoted” area) and sending it to another email client that will also manipulate and display that content in its specific own way.

There is no fool-proof way to solve this. Run the Google search if it seems unbelievable!!!

However, here are some tips from our friends at Litmus

Keep your email design simple

While it doesn’t work for everyone, simpler layouts (e.g. single-column) typically hold up a little better when forwarded. If your email is less complex, there is less that could go wrong. Jason Rodriguez, a fellow email designer here at Litmus, has seen little to no issues with forwards of his personal newsletter that’s based on a single-column approach, for example.

Offer alternative sharing options

Using the email client’s forward function clearly is the most natural way for readers to share an exciting email with a friend. However, there are ways you can encourage readers to share your email without hitting the forward button. Embed a “forward to a friend” link in your email which, when clicked, will send your email to the email addresses the subscriber provides—without messing with your code. If your audience is social media savvy, you could also experiment with a prominent placement of social sharing options that allow your readers to share the web-version of your email via social media.

Use an alternative review method

It is tempting to simply forward an email to your team to get it reviewed for a final sign-off before it’s sent. But you may be sending your team a broken email. Avoid confusion over emails that look broken by using alternative review methods like sending them the actual email

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