What Is Plain Text Email?
By Emil Kristensen CMO
@ Sleeknote

Emails have become an integral part of modern communication. Whether you are using it for personal or professional purposes, emails have revolutionized the way people interact with one another. One type of email that has a unique place in the world of communication is plain text email. In this article, we will explore plain text email, its history, advantages, and how it differs from other types of emails.

The History of Plain Text Email

Plain text email is the original form of email communication that has been around since the early days of email. It is a type of email that does not contain any formatting or visual elements and only uses plain text characters. The first email message that was ever sent was in plain text format by computer engineer Ray Tomlinson in 1971. Since then, it has been used extensively for communication purposes.

Despite the rise of HTML email, plain text email still remains popular among certain groups of users. One of the main advantages of plain text email is that it is lightweight and loads quickly, making it ideal for users with slow internet connections or those who prefer a minimalist approach to email. Additionally, plain text email is less susceptible to spam filters and is more accessible to users with visual impairments who rely on screen readers to read their emails.

How Plain Text Email Differs from HTML Email

Unlike plain text email, HTML email allows users to add various formatting options such as font styles, colors, images, and hyperlinks. HTML email is more visually appealing than plain text email, but it can be more complicated to create and may show differently across different email clients and devices.

Another key difference between plain text email and HTML email is the ability to track user engagement. HTML email allows for the inclusion of tracking pixels, which can provide information on how many recipients opened the email, clicked on links, and even how long they spent reading the email. This data can be used to improve future email campaigns and tailor content to better suit the interests of the target audience.

Why Some People Prefer Plain Text Email

One of the main reasons why some people prefer plain text email is its simplicity. Plain text email is straightforward and does not contain any distracting elements that can take away from the message’s clarity. Additionally, plain text email is universally compatible with all email clients and devices. This means that no matter what email client or device you use, you can read and send plain text emails.

Another advantage of plain text email is that it is often smaller in size compared to HTML emails. This means that plain text emails take up less storage space and are quicker to load, making them ideal for people with slow internet connections or limited data plans. Furthermore, plain text emails are less likely to be marked as spam by email filters, as they do not contain any hidden code or tracking pixels that are commonly used in HTML emails.

The Advantages of Using Plain Text Email

Besides its simplicity and universal compatibility, there are several other advantages of using plain text email. One of the most important benefits is its accessibility. Plain text email can be easily read using assistive technologies such as screen readers for people with visual impairments. Additionally, plain text emails are smaller in size than HTML emails, making them easier to send and receive, especially for people with slower internet connections.

Another advantage of using plain text email is that it is less likely to be marked as spam. HTML emails often contain images, links, and other formatting that can trigger spam filters. Plain text emails, on the other hand, are simpler and less likely to be flagged as spam. This means that your message is more likely to reach its intended recipient’s inbox and be read.

How to Send and Receive Plain Text Emails

Sending and receiving plain text emails is straightforward. Most email clients, such as Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook, allow you to choose between plain text and HTML when composing a new email. To send a plain text email, simply choose the “Plain Text” option before composing your message. If you prefer to receive plain text emails, some email clients allow you to set this as your default option in your email settings or preferences.

Plain Text vs Rich Text: Which Is Better for Email Communication?

Whether to use plain text or rich text email is a matter of personal preference. However, when it comes to formality, plain text emails tend to be seen as more professional and serious. On the other hand, rich text emails are more visually appealing and may be appropriate for personal or informal communication.

Best Practices for Formatting Plain Text Emails

Despite its simplicity, there are still some best practices that you should follow when formatting plain text emails. First, use short sentences and paragraphs to keep your message concise and easy to read. Second, limit the use of capital letters and symbols, as they can be interpreted as shouting and may be perceived negatively. Finally, avoid using emoticons or emojis, as they may not be universally recognized, and their meanings can be misinterpreted.

How to Optimize Your Plain Text Emails for Maximum Readability

To optimize your plain text email for maximum readability, make sure to use a clear and legible font, such as Arial, Verdana, or Times New Roman. Additionally, use line breaks or blank lines between paragraphs to break up large blocks of text and make your message easier to read. Finally, use bullet points or numbered lists to organize your ideas and emphasize important points.

The Role of Plain Text Emails in Email Marketing

Even though HTML emails are the norm when it comes to email marketing, plain text emails can still have a place in your overall email marketing strategy. Plain text emails can be useful for building a more personal connection with your subscribers and can be more effective in certain niches or industries, such as B2B or financial services.

In summary, plain text email is a simple yet effective form of email communication that has been around since the early days of email. It offers several advantages over HTML email, including its simplicity, accessibility, and universal compatibility. Whether you prefer plain text or HTML email, knowing how to use both effectively can enhance your overall communication and marketing strategy.