E-Mail Marketing and Type Limitations

One of my new tasks at work is e-mail marketing. We are starting to use it for both self-promotion and as a service that we will now offer to our clients. So far I am just getting my feet wet and sticking to the basics as I learn the ins and outs. As a designer who works in the print world 99% of the time, I've had the usual frustrations with typography that go along with the web.

Today I discovered a new e-mail specific limitation. Not only is the type limited to a few faces, now size is an issue as well. I learned from a contact at our partner company, many e-mail clients will not recognize all font sizes and will automatically resize your type. For instance, 9 point type is a no go, it will either become 8 or 10. Although you can create an e-mail blast with any size you choose, many of the recipients will not view it as you intend. From what I have researched so far, the safe sizes are 8, 10, 12, 14, 18, 24 and 36. Other sizes may work but most likely, not for everyone.

I'll continue with this if I find out anything different and I'd be interested to know how anybody else handles this issue. Hopefully this will come in handy to someone.


I would start with the basic html tags (H1, H2, H3, p, em, strong,) and then styling. Just make sure it's still working without the styling. There doesn't seem to be any global standard.

Make sure to test your emails with the popular webmail services. I get tons of emails that don’t render correctly in Gmail; one I got today was almost all images and some bad formatting hid all of them.

Thanks to both of you for the input. I suppose testing the different e-mail clients is just like testing with different browsers, I hadn't thought of that.