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Style Sheets: Great For Websites — Troublesome For Email

Cascading style sheets (CSS) are utilized by many web designers to simplify their design process and maintain a consistent style throughout a site. However, as useful as they are in the web design environment, they are equally troublesome when designing HTML for use in an email campaign.

Many email clients, including free providers such as Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail, will not render style sheets correctly, or will just strip them out completely. This is especially true for linked style sheets, where the creative attempts to load the style definitions from a hosted style sheet on your server. Embedded style sheets are almost just as troublesome, although some users have reported having better luck defining their style sheets between the body tags, as opposed to the common practice of defining them between the head tags, since many email clients will truncate or strip out the header.

We strongly recommend that you avoid using style sheets wherever possible for email campaigns. If you for some reason must use defined styles, try utilizing inline styles. This means that, instead of defining the style once in a stylesheet and referencing it as needed, you would need to define the style to every instance you want it to apply to.


Using Style Sheets:

<p class="Header">Header Text</a>

Using Inline Styles:

<p style="font-size:18px; color: #ff9900">

While this is obviously a less powerful solution in the standard web design environment, this more explicit per-instance definition can work across more email platforms than a standard style sheet and make it more likely that the target audience of your email campaign is seeing your creative in the style that you intended.

For more information on Applied Info Group's database and email marketing service capabilities, please contact Mitch Rubin, President of Applied Info Group at (908) 241-7007. Visit to learn more.