our readers are experimenting with email newsletters. How do you:
an email newsletter that appears on the recipient's screen in the
same format as on yours and
a Word document that can be opened by recipients and have the same
appearance on their machine as on yours?
a document in both Word form and email text form that looks fine
on your machine and sends internally to another machine in your
organization properly, will appear corrupted when sent to outsiders.
here is control of how the document appears on the recipient's screen!
Is it possible?
involves two separate issues. The first involves basic e-mail, while
the second involves attaching documents written in other applications.
In both cases, the problem is a result of differences between software
e-mail, the display is determined by the client software on the
machine of the recipient. Not only will different programs display
the same message in different ways, but the same program can be
set up differently, so two people using the same e-mail software
will not necessarily see a message the same as each other.
the problem is a bit different. One purpose of using an attachment
is to give you the ability to format a document, such that your
recipients will see the formatting. Assuming all of your recipients
use the *same version of the same software*, the formatting should
cases, you will experience problems when sending an attachment to
someone who uses the same program on a different platform (Windows
vs. Mac). But, if the various people are using more recent versions
of the software, you should not experience much variation in the
display. The more serious problems tend to occur when you have to
deal with older versions of the software.
to the display problems depends on who your recipients are. If you
have some control over the versions of software that your recipients
use, then you can effectively use attachments. You just have to
make sure that they use comparable versions of the software needed
to read attachments. As long as they use the same version, you should
be OK. Also, you can solve some problems by saving your file as
an earlier version of the software - using the "Save as type" box
in the save window.
If you can
not control the software, then you are limited to basic e-mail.
Even though you can experience problems based on people using different
e-mail clients, or even because their clients are set up differently,
you can get some consistency with basic e-mail. The following guidelines
will help you:
tabs when sending e-mail. The length of a tab is set by the recipient's
software, so if you use them, the person who reads your e-mail will
very likely see the message formatted differently than you intended.
special formatting options. Many new e-mail programs allow you to
change the size and style of fonts, and to use other advanced formatting
options. Unfortunately, there are no standards yet for these options;
therefore, your efforts to format a message will be wasted if your
recipient uses software that does not allow for advanced formatting.
paragraphs (keep them to 6-8 lines or less). Between paragraphs,
insert a blank line (by hitting the enter key twice). The "white
space" will make it easier for your recipients to read the message.
CAPITALS except in limited circumstances. Using all capitals is
the e-mail equivalent of shouting, so you should only use them to
*really* stress a point. Surrounding a word with *asterisks* is
or _underscores_ is a better way to place emphasis on a word or
"Word Wrap" function of your software, and make sure it is on. This
function will keep lines at a consistent length.
No matter what you do to keep things consistent, the differences
between software will cause formatting problems for at least a
small percentage of recipients.
Tip: Coming Changes
have focused on the fact that even the best search engines (HotBot,
AltaVista and Northern
Light -- in that order) cover about 37% to 40% of the overall
web landscape. Of the approximately 350 Million web pages available
for public consumption, they capture information on roughly 130
Million (at best). This means that your search techniques will increasingly
depend on the use of spiders, both commercial and custom based.
is further complicated by Compaq's recent acquisition of the Digital
Equipment Corporation. As you probably remember, Digital has used
AltaVista as a marketing tool for a variety of product lines. As
a showcase item, the pressure to produce black ink at the bottom
line wasn't as great for the AltaVista team as it was for its competitors.
That may well be changing.
next several months, keep an eye on the results you get from AltaVista
queries. We have a hunch that the new management will produce a
number of revenue experiments. That will mean that you have to work
a little harder to understand the results that you get. Expect AltaVista
to become, at least temporarily, increasingly full of distractions
designed to maximize the number of pages that you view on their
site....it's the tried and true first attempt to increase revenue.
longer haul, Compaq is going to have to decide just how AltaVista
fits into their corporate profile. Unlike DEC, Compaq dose not have
a long standing tradition of either research and development funding
or high profile marketing giveaways. Expecting that they'll swallow
the current operating principles of AltaVista seems optimistic at
we were a Compaq recruiter, we'd be drooling over the possibility
of mining the data in AltaVista queries for potential new hires.
We can even imagine a fairly profitable business in selling that
data to recruiters on a subscription basis. But, that sort of derivative
data extraction revenue poses all sorts of tough issues, both culturally
and politically inside the new organization.
the future holds, you can be certain that the quality and intelligibility
of your results from AltaVista are about to change.