Mark Wyner’s article Optimizing CSS presentation in HTML emails concludes:
HTML emails that contain semantic markup and CSS fare very well with the most commonly used email clients. And for clients that offer poor or no support, the semantic markup allows for graceful degradation. This amounts to ultimate accessibility for your intended recipients.
[Via StyleGala | News.]
He explains his techniques for using CSS in emails and covers some of the problems different email clients bring to the whole process. This could be useful.
I still believe that HTML email is like trying to watch TV on the radio. We’ve had enough problems trying to get web browser software to render HTML in some kind of reliable and coherent way and now we want email clients to do it too?
Each month I write the CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui newsletter. The first 40 issues were text-only (and formatted according to the Text Email Newsletter (TEN) standard for accessibility), but a couple of months ago we started making an HTML version available. It took hours and hours and many tests to come up with something which is acceptable across a range of email clients. The HTML is somewhat fudged (eg using headings and blockquotes where the real web page uses a definition list), but it’s more or less OK and sort of valid and accessible. We don’t have any layout to speak of and including some images in one issue caused another headache which we solved by simply attaching them.
To actually send the thing I use Thunderbird, because it does a fine job. In my tests Eudora performed poorly (fine by me as I use Eudora for email and don’t need it to display web pages). The best joke was creating the HTML email in Entourage 2004, which worked OK, only to find that Entourage 2004 then totally messed up the message it received. The biggest problem for our newsletter is the high number of government department recipients using weird stuff like Lotus Notes or whatever they all use. That seems to have the biggest problems with HTML email.