Most of us are visually oriented beings. The images, colors, and the overall appearance matters a lot. Even though the content of your message is what eventually matters and you cannot merely rely upon the outward appearance, it is still the crucial factor in making the first appearance. As you can guess, the same rule applies to the email messages. You can hook the person reading your emails instantly through a slick and modern theme of your message or you can disinterest them at first glance without ever reaching to the content if the theme and looks do not look appealing. Because the fact of the matter is that the eyes are often the dominant part of our senses and are crucial elements in communication, even written communication.
Modify your emails’ look to suit your brand
If you own a brand or even a small company, it is a good idea to keep the tone of your presentation consistent throughout. Think of ‘Facebook’ company and the blue color it uses in most of their presentations everywhere, including the main website. This leaves the lasting impression upon the users and make the branding stronger. You can do the same to your written communication to make the brand more consistent.
Today we are discussing how to change the default settings for the formatting and looks of your emails and how to modify the format for a single email without changing the default settings for all emails. The point is to either make your email look easier on the eyes of the reader or fit the looks to that of your brand. You can also stylize your emails to fit your unique personality and voice, especially if you are a writer.
By default, when you create an email in Outlook, the format is set to either simple HTML or rich-text or plain text. There are no themes applied to the emails, such as different font colors and different formatting for title, bullet style, hyperlinks, and so on. You just get a blank canvas with white background with default text font (often Calibri).
Also, remember that how your emails look to the recipients also depend on the settings of their own client that they are using to read the emails. If they have set it to “Plain-text,” the HTML formatting of your emails can look weird.
That’s why you might have noticed the notification in Windows Outlook at the top of an email that says “If there are problems with how this message is displayed, click here to view it in a web browser.” This is because if the message is using some advanced formatting that Outlook may not display correctly, you can open the email in a web-browser to see it exactly as intended by the sender. Similarly, how the emails you sent to others are displayed depend on their settings and client. By default, in most of the clients, HTML formatting is enabled, although the automatic downloading of images might be turned off.
To modify one specific email that you want, there is no need to change the settings. You can immediately apply the desired themes and colors to your overall email or the particular elements inside your email.
To start off, you can modify your emails as you want only if they are HTML formatted. Rich text and plain text emails cannot be modified in the same way. For the same reason, HTML emails are larger in size and plain-text emails are much smaller comparatively.
When inside a mail-composing window, go to “Format Text” tab on the ribbon and select “HTML” from the “format” section.
Once you have changed the format from either plain or rich text to HTML, you can now apply some of the HTML based formatting to your emails.
If the other areas of composing window are active (such as Subject Line), the options inside the ‘Format text’ will be disabled. Click on the text part of the message to enable all the options for “Format Text.”
- From “Format Text,” you can easily format your text as needed. Such as choosing font family, font size, font color, italics, underline, strikethrough, and so on.
- You can also choose the “Style” of the text message, such as: Normal, Heading 1, Heading 2, Title, Subtitle, Quote, etc. These styles are pre-defined into Outlook and when you apply them, the text automatically changes the formatting to whatever applies to that style. For example, if you select the ‘Title,’ the text often changes to larger font size. But you can also modify the specific formatting for all of these styles and even create your own style if you frequently use it.
- For instance, there are only two pre-set styles for headings, but if you want a third headline pre-set, you can create it and define its formatting manually.
The ‘Format Text’ section only applies formatting to text. But what if you want to modify the other parts of your email message, such as background color or background image or more?
Read below to find out.
What are Themes and How to Use it in Outlook?
Themes are pre-defined set of formatting, colors, fonts, and other effects. By changing the theme, you automatically change the entire formatting of the message based on that theme. Themes offer a quick way to create emails with a consistent look and feel. Again, you are free to modify some or all the elements of any theme and even create your own custom theme from scratch.
To access these themes, go to “Options” tab on the ribbon and then to the “Themes” section.
- Clicking on “Themes” dropdown will show you all the available pre-defined themes and option to create a new custom theme.
- You can also change the set of colors used in the theme for different texts and links and so on.
- You can also change the fonts of the theme by clicking on “Fonts” dropdown.
- You can also change the overall effects that are applied to various objects within a theme (such as shadow, border, and other visual effects)
Note that if you are composing in Plain or Rich text formatting, these options for themes, fonts, colors, and effects will be disabled. So, to use “Themes” and all these other options to modify your emails’ look and feel, you must change the formatting for emails to HTML.
How to Change the Default Themes and Styles for all Emails in Windows Outlook?
If you always send emails with a particular theme and not just occasionally, it’s a good idea to change the default settings.
- To do so, go to File -> Options -> ‘Mail’ tab.
- Here, inside compose messages, you can set the format to HTML
- And then go to “Stationery and Fonts” to set the default themes, fonts, colors, and so on.
Inside “Stationery and Fonts,” go to “Personal Stationery” tab and then set the options as selected.
- To set the theme, click on “Theme” and then select from the available list of themes that you want to set for your emails.
- Then select the fonts that you want. You can set it to always use the Themes’ fonts or your own fonts when reply, or always your own fonts. And then select your own fonts from the options underneath.
- There are also few other options that you can set to your own needs.
Now, whenever you create new email message, it will automatically be created with the default theme and colors. You can still manually change any part of an email or text, but by default, it will reflect the formatting of the active theme that you are using.
As the final note, Office default themes have some smart colors and formatting that both professional and look beautiful. But if you want to slightly tweak it to fit your branding, do it minimally. Do not go overboard with colors and effects. The golden rule is to keep it simple and yet fancy enough to get noticed. And always remember that all the colors and fancy stuff is towards an objective, not the other way around. The themes you use must direct your readers towards the actual content of the emails and not distract them from the message.
Find this balance through trial and error and also after considering the kind of readers you have and the nature of emails you send. An HR manager should decide on different colors and themes than a fashion designer for their emails.
We hope the article above has been of help to you in upgrading from plain old boring text messages to sophisticated and elegant-looking emails that reflect your style and brand perfectly, while also emphasizing the actual content and messages you want to communicate.