Remove extraneous HTML cruft when using Word as your editor

For the last few versions of Outlook, the setting to enable Word as the e-mail editor has been enabled by default. While some people like using Word as an email editor due to the advanced features available, others dislike it because of Word's tendency to generate a lot of HTML markup for even simple HTML mails. If you do want to use Word, you can minimize the amount of markup it adds as follows:

1. Open up Word
2. Tools | Options
3. On the General tab, select Email Options
4. Switch to the General tab

You'll see four main settings:

1. None
2. Medium
3. High
4. Rely on CSS

I did some very unscientific tests using this text as a sample:

this has fancy formatting

  • I
  • Love
  • HTML

and here are my results (this counts total message size, not just size of the HTML bodypart):

Not using CSS: None=11KB, Medium=8KB, High=6KB
Using CSS: None=9KB, Medium=7KB, High=5KB

All of the items displayed properly on receive using Outlook. You're probably safe using the "High" setting as long as you don't use Word-specific features like the drawing tools in your messages. Stick to basic text formatting and inline pictures.

P.S. I do love HTML for email, regardless of size or "bloat". It's particularly useful in long threads in combination with the "Mark my comments with" setting in Outlook.

Comments (5)

  1. Roland Kaufmann says:

    I am surely not the first one to bring this up, but if you want to improve the usability story in Outlook the *please* get bottom-posting and quoting correct before you put your resources into more HTML features.

    You are free to dismiss me as "yet another old Usenet guy who refuse to live up to new times", but the fact remains: For people that are more concerned about the message than the medium, Outlook gets more in the way than it helps.

    And why do I write this in the comments section of your blog? Because that is currently the only place I have yet seen where it is possible to give feedback on Outlook/Exchange.

  2. KC Lemson says:

    Can you give me more specifics about what you think that outlook should do to improve the bottom-posting and quoting capabilities? I will then pass that on to the owners.

  3. Guido5 says:

    Great tip, didn’t even know it existed.

    Some links between Outlook options and Word options should exist when using Word to edit e-mails… it’s not very comfortable to fire up Word to change some of the settings that we actually use in Outlook.

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