HTML & CSS
So I have to develop an email newsletter. I am having the most trouble with this than anything I've ever learned. I understand it has to be coded all in tables and inline CSS and such but HOW do you actually place what you code into an email? I mean there are no "HTML" option on Yahoo mail or gmail. Has anyone developed any kind of email newsletter before? How did you place in your HTML?
Email allows you to send two bodies - one html and one text. Note, Email support for HTML is spectacularly uneven and unpredictable. Stay away from CSS and use HTML 3 standards.
Yep, that means table based layout.
While a table-based layout is ideal, completely avoiding all CSS is not necessary. There are a number of properties that you should stay away from (float being a major one), but simple properties are generally ok.
A good Google search will yield a plethora of resources that even lay out the major differences between e-mail clients to give you a better idea of what you can/cannot use.
This old article from Sitepoint shows you step by step how to set up and send html emails from Thunderbird. (Other email clients may be similar and some won't offer that functionality.)
More resources can be found here:
Articles & Tips, Free Email Templates & Downloads - Campaign Monitor
The Principles of Beautiful HTML Email » SitePoint
Paul O'B is heading in the right direction here. The easiest way to create and send an email newsletter is to a) build it as an HTML file, then b) use an app like Campaign Monitor or Mailchimp to test, then finally send the email campaign. My gang (Campaign Monitor) don't charge until you send to more than 5 email addresses in one hit, so effectively, you could load up your HTML file there and test to your heart's content.
The problem with just loading your code into a desktop client like Thunderbird is that it can be pretty limiting, while apps like CM do tasks that you probably haven't considered yet. Some examples are copying CSS inline for compatibility, or creating the text-version (Multipart-MIME, as Michael Morris suggested).
You can by all means use CSS, however check this CSS in email guide to find out which properties work across the major email clients.
For a good primer on HTML email coding, [check out this post by 24ways. Alternately, you can [URL="http://www.campaignmonitor.com/templates/"]download a free template](http://24ways.org/2009/rock-solid-html-emails) and start hacking away from there.
Again, I'm from Campaign Monitor, the community gal to be exact. We're all designers who have spent time cutting our teeth on email, so pop us a line if you have any questions.
See my biggest issue with email newsletter at the moment is actually getting the HTML into the newsletter since I only using online web services like Yahoo Mail and Google Mail. Do I need to download something like Outlook in order to set up an actual email newsletter?
And Before I signup for Mailchamp or Campaign Monitor is it what I'm looking for really? I just need to figure out how to get the HTML into the email not to send my email newsletters out to a bunch of contacts.
You'll need something like outlook or as I mentioned before thunderbird. I don't believe you can do it with gmail and the like.
In outlook express it's simple as you just select "format", "rich text" and then you can paste your html into the "source" tab and then send. Obviously if you are sending to hundreds of people then you need something like the service that campaign monitor provide. If its just one or two emails then you can send them yourself.
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