Email Best Practices

Subject Line & Preheader

  • Use a short, informative subject line.
  • Select a “From” name and address appropriate to the audience. Consider that students may not know the names of university officials so it may be better to say “Office of…” and use their office’s general email address as the sender so that it matches. The “Reply To” email address can be set to a specific individual.
  • Include the call to action or purpose of the email in the Preheader text field. The copy should be 100 characters or fewer. It is not required, but email service providers that show preview text will indiscriminately use the first few lines from the body copy if it is not included. 

Layout & Content

  • Save header/banner images at 1200 pixels horizontal by 280 pixels vertical at medium resolution. It will display in the email at 600px by 140px, but saving it this way will give you the smallest file size at the highest visual quality. Any body images should also be saved this way (although the dimensions will be variable) to make sure the email loads quickly. Design the content area of the email to be 600 pixels wide, but accommodate desktop users by centering the content area on either a white or solid color background. It should be set to scale responsively down to 300 pixels for mobile phones.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Make use of bullet points, bold typeface and headers to make the content readable. Clearly indicate links with underlines and by making them blue, if possible. Use spacing and horizontal rules to delineate content sections.
  • Minimize the use of images and do not send an email that only contains images. Most email service providers will not load images automatically, so by default, most users will see a blank space. If an image is used, alt-text should be provided. Avoid designing emails with text layered over a background image. Most email clients will not accommodate background images, so the entire section will have to be saved as an image.

Email image use example of images not loading and images correctly loading.

Email image rendering example.


Use standard, web-safe fonts as much as possible, e.g. Arial, Georgia, Tahoma, Times New Roman, Verdana, etc. You can use non-standard fonts, but a comparable web-safe font should be set as fallback. It is best not to use our branded fonts outside of images because they will not render for most users. For accessibility, the ideal font size for body copy is 14 pixels, and 22 pixels or larger for headers.