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Plain Text vs HTML

I tried to subscribe to one of those e-mail newsletters and they asked me if I wanted Plain Text or HTML. I have no idea what that means. Please advise.

Everybody uses a different device (computer, personal digital assistant, even cell phone!) to get and read their e-mail. And they also use different software to read their e-mail. Some use AOL or MSN or Yahoo which have the software built-in while others may use a program like Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora or others to read their mail.

The point is that not all devices and software can handle the same kind of e-mail. For example, if you are getting your e-mail messages on a small screen device like one of the new cell phones or a Blackberry, then you don't want lots of pictures and extra stuff. You want only the basic information because your screen can't display much more than that.

Also, some e-mail programs will block certain kinds of e-mail to prevent possible security breaches.

That is why many e-newsletter publishers will ask the question they asked you.

Plain Text is just what it says - plain text. You won't get any pretty pictures, formatting, colors and extras that may make the message more interesting or fun to read.

If you have a portable device or your e-mail program is set to be very strict about security, Plain Text is the way to go. Plain Text will come through on any e-mail reader.

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and it is the programming language that web pages are created in. So if an e-mail message is created in HTML, it can have all the pictures, fonts, formatting, links and extras that a web page could.

That can be good or bad. It's good if you are not using a device with a tiny screen because you may want to see all the nice stuff as opposed to boring plain text.

But some e-mail programs won't let you receive messages with HTML code in them because bad stuff can be hidden in the code and potentially cause problems.

In general if you are viewing your e-mail on a desktop or laptop PC and using a fairly modern e-mail program or one of the big companies like AOL, MSN, Yahoo, etc. messages received in HTML can be much more interesting to read. If the e-newsletter is from a trusted source, then you probably don't have to worry about hidden code in the message.

The free monthly e-mail message from is in Plain Text so that anyone can read it on any device and there is absolutely no possibility of hidden code in a message doing anything to your machines.

It's not as pretty as it could be but it is 100% safe and universally accepted.

Answered by Tech Expert Dan Hanson

If you have computer or Internet questions, e-mail our Tech Guru at tech@ClevelandWomen.Com

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