Email formatting can be a tricky business. In this article, we offer helpful tips specific to Microsoft Word to save you time and avoid common pitfalls.

It’s quite common for our customers to create press releases in a word processing application (e.g. Microsoft Word). Copying and pasting text from a word processor to an email editor can lead to unexpected (and frustrating) formatting changes, especially when the text is heavily formatted. Before we dive into our recommendations, let’s start with a quick overview of how an email editor differs from a word processor.


How Email Editors Differ from Word Processors

Email editors, like the one used for outreach in Influencers, are HTML-based. They offer some functionality for text formatting, not the comprehensive set of options available in word processors. Composing text directly within our email editor works very well. Copying and pasting text composed in Microsoft Word to our email editor also works well, as long as the formatting is akin to what’s supported in the email editor. However, more complex formatting has to be interpreted by the email editor and gets automatically converted into HTML formatting. This is where things can go wrong. Below we cover common formatting needs and recommendations for how to address them successfully.


Bulleted and Numbered Lists

Bulleted and numbered lists are supported but with some restrictions.

If you’re writing directly in the email editor:

List options available:

  • A single type of bullet (solid square symbol)

  • A single type of numbering (1., 2., 3., etc.)

Formatting options available:

  • Font type, size, style, color formatting can be applied to the text, but not to the bullet symbols or numbers (for example, the text of a list of 3 items can be changed to Tahoma, 12 pt, bold, red, but the bullet points/numbers will remain in the default format)

  • Bullets and lists can be indented and tiered

Paragraph alignment (e.g. centered) should be avoided when using lists because alignment only gets applied to the text, not the bullets.

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If you’re copying and pasting from Word:

When you paste text into our email editor, we recommend choosing the “keep formatting” option. Here is what you need to know:

  • Simple bulleted lists created in Microsoft Word will copy into the email editor as such (e.g., solid square, solid circle, open circle)

  • Simple numbered lists will copy into the editor as such (1., 2., A., B., I., II….)

  • Other complex bullet or number formats (e.g., dashes, check marks, A) b), etc.) are not supported and will be converted to the defaults

  • Formatting can be changed in the editor, but they only applies to the text, not the bullet symbols or numbers (as described above)

  • Tiered lists are recognized and copy over (1., 2., a., b.) with the same formatting limitations as described above


Paragraph and Image Alignment

If you’re writing directly into the email editor:

Paragraphs and images can be aligned easily with the standard menu functions: left, center, right and full alignment, as well as right and left indent.

Steps:

  • Type the text first, then align.

  • Insert the image first, then align.

If you are copying and pasting from Microsoft Word:

Achieving the desired alignment with copy/paste often depends on how the alignment was defined in the original Microsoft Word document.

  • A paragraph typically copies successfully when aligned with left/right alignment features, or when indented.

  • A paragraph that’s aligned by tabbing (tab key) or hitting the space key often fails to copy the desired formatting. This practice should be avoided.

  • A paragraph or document written with Word “Styles” - such as indent the first line of each paragraph 0.5” - often fails to copy successfully. This practice should be avoided.

Similar recommendations apply for images.

  • Standard alignment features work well.

  • Using tabs or the space bar to align often does not produce the desired results.

  • Images with text wrapping are also too complex to produce consistent results. This can be achieved through source code editing within the email editor.

Recommendations:

  • Keep formatting to the core features. Text and image alignment are best achieved by using the editor's alignment features: left, center, right, full alignment; indent left and right.

  • To achieve complex layouts, such as tables and images with text wrapping, you will have to edit in the source code and may need assistance. Need Assistance? If you need help formatting your release and already have a copy of your design, please share it with our team via Live Chat within the platform along with the details of the progress you've made and they will be able to further assist.

Note: this is specific to Microsoft Word and does not apply to other word processing apps such as Google Docs.


Mail Merge

Dynamic fields for first and last name can be inserted to help personalize your emails. If you are formatting the copy of your email (font, size, style), make sure to follow these steps to ensure the dynamic field gets formatted correctly:

  1. Select the desired format for your paragraph (e.g. Tahoma 12 pt)

  2. Write the paragraph

  3. Insert the field as you type, or after you’ve completed the paragraph

If you apply formatting after you have written your copy, the formatting will NOT be applied to the dynamic field. You must apply desired formatting before you start writing and insert a dynamic field.

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Appearance in Email Editor vs Recipient’s Email Client

Many of the problems we get reported from customers are not unique to our product. They are inherent problems with copying and pasting heavily formatted text from one application to another. Even after you have polished the “pixel perfect” email in our email editor, there is no guarantee that it will render the same way across different email clients used by your recipients.

As a result, there are companies that provide dedicated solutions to test emails before they are sent out to ensure that they look good across 90 different email clients (e.g. Email on Acid).


We hope you found this article helpful. Let us know by using the feedback buttons below. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to us via Live Chat!

Team Meltwater

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