Which do you prefer, HTML or Plain Text email?

HTML or Plain Text Email – Which Do You Prefer

FINAL UPDATE:  I have closed the poll and frankly I was surprised with the results. 72% of you said you prefer HTML format for Newsletters you receive, with 18% preferring Text-only formats and 10% of you asking for the ability to choose.

I had the feeling that text-only would win out but clearly that is not the case. So HTML format it is for Fill the Funnel Newsletter. I appreciate all of you taking the time to share your preferences.


I had the opportunity to get caught up in some reading over the holidays and one of the topics that I have been pondering is the question I asked in the poll above. Derek Halpern of Social Triggers wrote a post about this recently and he concluded that “people prefer text emails”. He conducted his polling in an email vs. a poll, so curious what your vote will say.

I have asked many of my contacts over the holidays and the response was leaning more toward the graphically rich HTML type emails.  What did come across loud and clear is that if you are going to send out an HTML newsletter make sure that you have a pleasing design!

With there being so many affordable email service providers to choose from including Constant Contact, MailChimp  and AWeber, all  providing pre-designed layouts, we sometimes think that we can just click on one and presto! We have all received an email, especially over the holidays, that demonstrated the wrong way to use an HTML formatted communication. If you are going to use HTML, make sure that you have someone design it that has some design and HTML experience.

I wrote last week about a new newsletter provider on the scene called TinyLetter that provides a simple “text only” message capability while still providing the required opt-in/registration capability as well as an easy unsubscribe button. I have been testing this option for a few weeks now and it appears to be an effective communications vehicle that has received many positive reactions to date.

I still receive a dozen or two email newsletters each month and I will be watching a bit more carefully to see if my preferences are leaning one way or another.  It sounds to me that if we are smart, we will be giving the option to our readers to indicate which style they prefer. Please share your vote in the poll above and let us know your feeling or additional recommendations and input below in the comments.

If you want to see how I do our newsletters I encourage you to subscribe to Fill the Funnel’s Web Tools Update and select your preference right on the form. I would appreciate your Tweeting this and sharing on Facebook to get the broadest response possible.


Ayeen Benoza - 11 years ago

Hi Miles, most of my contacts prefer HTML emails just like me. That’s what I noticed. I guess some people prefer plain text format because it’s easier to read specially if you’re on a rush. I know there are some people who prefer the HTML email to add color to the daily routine that they’ve been doing over and over again, or smetimes to take the monotony out of daily life. Well, we all have our own personal reasons, but what’s important is, it gets the message delivered and our work done. http://bit.ly/ayeen2

Digital Marketing Agency - 11 years ago

I prefer HTML graphic, not just because it looks better, but because you can get a better grasp of the message with the graphics. This doesn’t apply to all e-mails, but it does to some and those some could be important. So unless I’m at a wifi spot with horrible speeds, I always read my email in HTML graphic format..

Amberr Meadows - 11 years ago

Visual appeal is important to me and captures my attention, so I prefer graphically rich emails.

mike - 11 years ago

I prefer to receive HTML e-mails. Funny how personal preference has a lot to do with professional decisions, as we use HTML in our e-mail campaigns as well.

Daniel Milstein - 11 years ago

That is true, Miles. As an author and business man, I can relate to how you said, “I have been testing this option for a few weeks now and it appears to be an effective communications vehicle that has received many positive reactions to date”. I hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you’re talking about. Can’t wait to read more from you!

Nigel Edelshain - 11 years ago


Thanks for asking a needed question.

Quick observation. HTML emails NEED to win the poll 60/40 at least in my view we should use PLAIN TEXT.

It takes TIME to design those lovely HTML emails or newsletter templates. Why spend the time if the people receiving it are just as good with plain text that does not require that design time?

Personally, I get great results with plain text to people I KNOW. I’d guess it just feels like a friend reaching out to them and they are NOT looking for graphics.


    Miles Austin - 11 years ago

    I agree with you on the 60/40. I am a bit surprised with the strength showing so for for the HTML choice. I wonder if we are asking the right question? I got your subscription for my TinyLetter experiment as well. I will be looking forward to your input on it when they begin to arrive.

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