Some mail programs allow you to use HTML - hypertext markup language - when you compose a message. However, it is a bad idea and you should turn it off.

Below, I will show you how to do so with Outlook Express (the Internet Explorer mail program), Outlook 2000, and Netscape.

Why Is HTML Used in Mail Messages?

HTML is the same system used to create Web pages. Within a mail program, HTML allows you to create messages that look like Web pages by using different typefaces, italics, boldface, pictures, and so on.

HTML is often embraced by newcomers, who tend to get carried away with totally unnecessary typefaces, elaborate formatting and distracting backgrounds.

Within an email message, plain text almost always works best, especially if you take a few moments to write well. Although there may be times when you think you need boldface or italics, what you probably need is a better verb.

Moreover, if your recipient's mail program is not the same as yours, HTML in a message can cause problems:
  • Your message may not look like what you intended, and there is no way for you to find out.

  • When the person replies, the text of your message may be messed up. (I have seen this happen a lot.)
Unfortunately, some mail programs generate HTML by default. Even if you think you are typing plain text, your program may be sending HTML without your knowing it (and causing unnecessary problems at the other end).

My advice is, turn off the HTML. Here are the instruction for how to do it:
If you use AOL 6.0 or Compuserve 6.0, it will automatically use HTML for all your outgoing messages, and there is no way to turn it off. You need to get better software.



How to Turn Off HTML with Outlook Express (Internet Explorer)
  1. Start the mail program.
  2. Pull down the Tools menu and selectOptions.
  3. Click on the Send tab.
  4. Under "Mail Sending Format", click onPlain Text.
  5. To finish, click on the OK button.


How to Turn Off HTML with Outlook 2000
  1. Start the mail program.
  2. Pull down the Tools menu and selectOptions.
  3. Click on the Mail Format tab.
  4. Look for "Send in this message format". Click on the small arrow to the right. This will display a list of choices. Select Plain Text.
  5. To finish, click on the OK button.


How to Turn Off HTML with Netscape: Version 6
  1. Start the mail program.
  2. Pull down the Edit menu and select Mail & Newsgroups Account Settings.
  3. Look for the option "Compose messages in HTML format". Click on the box to the left of this option, and make sure the box is not selected. (That is, make sure the option is turned off).
  4. Click on the OK button.
  5. Pull down the Edit menu and select Preferences.
  6. Look in the Category box for "Mail & Newsgroups". If the the little triangle to the left of this category is not pointing down, click on it. This will display several sub-categories.
  7. Click on Send Format.
  8. To the right, there are a number of settings. Click on Convert the message to plain text.
  9. To finish, click on the OK button.


How to Turn Off HTML with Netscape: Older Versions
  1. Start the mail program.
  2. Pull down the Edit menu and select Preferences.
  3. Look in the Category box for "Mail & Newsgroups".
  4. If there is a plus sign next to "Mail & Newsgroups", click on the plus sign (+).
  5. Under "Mail & Newsgroups", click on Formatting.
  6. Within the box labeled "Message formatting", click on
    Use the plain text editor to compose messages.
  7. To finish, click on the OK button.

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