Format email messages with graphical content

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Format email messages with graphical content

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:09 pm

Anyone knows how to keep/preserve MS Word document format which contains images when it is emailed via MS Outlook?

-MS Word document contains graphical items and images at specific location(s).
-Email message is composed directly from MS Word.
-Once the message is received all of the items are NOT at the same location(s) as the original MS Word document.

I know it has to be converted to HTML or RTF and it reorganizes everything. The dilemma is to how to keep the same exact format.

Any insight is appreciated.
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Re: Format email messages with graphical content

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:53 pm

Which versions of Word and Outlook?

Have you tried switching Word into its HTML mode explicitly while editing the message?
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Re: Format email messages with graphical content

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:33 pm

We tried all the latest ones 2003, 2007, 2010.
MS Word has an option to switch to HTML view, how do you switch to HTML though?
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Re: Format email messages with graphical content

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:56 pm

What's stopping you from attaching the .doc or .docx file to your email?
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Re: Format email messages with graphical content

Postposted on Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:09 pm

bthylafh wrote:What's stopping you from attaching the .doc or .docx file to your email?


Mail merge allows to send personalized message to multiple recipients at once. Content from MS Word document is transferred to the body of the email message. Besides, this is a newsletter the idea is to have the recipient view it without having to download the attachment.
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Re: Format email messages with graphical content

Postposted on Fri Sep 23, 2011 1:23 am

HTML is not a good choice for preserving formatting unless you want to get really fancy with CSS (and then you need to deal with the myriad CSS rendering quirks that different versions of MS products have). Native Word attachments are not a good choice for a newsletter either, unless you know up front that all recipients have MS Word (preferably the same version as you) installed.

I think the only way you're gonna be able to make this work reliably is to send it as an attachment. And that attachment needs to be in PDF format. Yes, I know that means all of your users need to have Acrobat Reader installed; but A) most people already have it; B) if they don't, it's a free download; and C) a basic PDF file will render properly in any version of Acrobat Reader that has been released in the past decade.

PDF attachments are sent along with the enclosing e-mail; there's no need for the recipient to "download the attachment" separately. Unless you consider clicking on the PDF icon to be "downloading".
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Re: Format email messages with graphical content

Postposted on Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:07 am

From my own experience creating HTML emails for work, Outlook has some of the worse standards compliance when it comes to rendering. You may not be able to get the exact look you want, unfortunately. Forget using CSS and DIVs... you're best off using straight TABLE tags for formatting and postioning. So this means you can't save a Word doc into HTML and hope that works since the HTML markup that comes from Word is littered with extraneous markup which Outlook probably can't figure out how to render. Gonna have to hand code the HTML yourself and cut back on fancy formatting.
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Re: Format email messages with graphical content

Postposted on Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:33 am

SnowboardingTobi wrote:Gonna have to hand code the HTML yourself and cut back on fancy formatting.

Dunno if that's gonna work with the mail merge feature... for that matter, exporting to PDF probably isn't going to play nice with mail merge either. So I'm basically out of ideas at this point.

To the OP: What's more important -- getting the formatting exactly right, or the personalization? I'm thinking there may not be a way to get both if you're committed to using Word's mail merge facility.
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Re: Format email messages with graphical content

Postposted on Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:35 am

Second the motion: make it a PDF file. I know that wasn't the answer you were looking for but that's the most practical way to guarantee formatting if the recipient doesn't need to edit anything. Also, it's the least likely to get flagged and eaten by an antivirus scanner or aggressive security setting in the recipient's email client.
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Re: Format email messages with graphical content

Postposted on Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:49 am

Just to elaborate on this a bit further... PDF is the closest thing we've got to a universal format for electronic publishing, when the goal is to present something that looks like a printed book/magazine/newsletter/etc. Anything else is necessarily going to be a compromise on portability, preservation of formatting/layout, or both.
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Re: Format email messages with graphical content

Postposted on Fri Sep 23, 2011 4:37 am

michael_d wrote:
bthylafh wrote:What's stopping you from attaching the .doc or .docx file to your email?


Mail merge allows to send personalized message to multiple recipients at once. Content from MS Word document is transferred to the body of the email message. Besides, this is a newsletter the idea is to have the recipient view it without having to download the attachment.


Even if you could get messages sent from outlook to outlook to look exactly the same, how do you know what email client your recipients are using. Getting the formatting exactly the same simply can't be done in email. It's one of my gripes with outlook that it kind of encourages people to think this can be done.

Anyway, if you're sending this to a large number of people (say 100+) then you might want to consider a dedicated mailing list service like mailchimp.

From an admin point of view this means your not sending bulk mail through your normal email system which means you have less risk of your normal email getting junked by a spam filter. It also has bounce control so you can prune off dead addresses and there is a way for recipients to opt out of your mailing list so you comply with anti spam laws.

From a user point of view it also supports basic mail merge (you can customise the name at least) and it allows you to fall back to plain text and add a "can't see this message properly? Click here to view in browser" link for when the formatting really doesn't work out. The big drawback from your point of view is that you can't just upload a Word document and have it go out to your mailing list.
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Re: Format email messages with graphical content

Postposted on Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:20 pm

Thanks for the replies. We will contact Microsoft developer support to see what they say. I will post back if they suggest anything useful.
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Re: Format email messages with graphical content

Postposted on Sat Sep 24, 2011 1:03 am

michael_d wrote:We will contact Microsoft developer support to see what they say. I will post back if they suggest anything useful.

Good luck... I have a feeling you may need it.
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Re: Format email messages with graphical content

Postposted on Sat Sep 24, 2011 1:22 pm

just brew it! wrote:
michael_d wrote:We will contact Microsoft developer support to see what they say. I will post back if they suggest anything useful.

Good luck... I have a feeling you may need it.


I work in a software company one of our apps uses MS Word mail merge object to perform mass mail out just like MS Word itself. As a solution partner we are entitled to several support calls every year. They have helped us greatly in the past.

Microsoft developer support is quite good actually.
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Re: Format email messages with graphical content

Postposted on Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:13 am

I've dealt with their developer support in the past, and was not impressed. Granted this was 10+ years ago, so perhaps things have gotten better...
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