Change the message format to HTML, Rich Text, or plain text

All e-mail applications are not alike, so you need to use a message format that your recipient's application supports. Microsoft Outlook offers the flexibility in message formats that you need for different situations. The message format that you choose determines whether you can add formatted text, such as bold fonts, colored fonts, and bullets, and whether you can add pictures to the message body. However, just because you choose a message format that lets you add these features doesn't mean the recipient will be able to see them. That is because some e-mail applications don't support formatted messages or pictures.

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Differences between message formats

Change the message format for all messages

Change the message format for all messages sent to a specified Internet recipient

Change the message format for one message

Differences between message formats

Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 supports three message formats:

  • Plain text     This is a format that all e-mail applications support. You can set Outlook to open messages that you receive in plain text format only. Plain text doesn't support bold, italic, colored fonts, or other text formatting. It also doesn't support pictures that are displayed directly in the message body, although you can include the pictures as attachments.

  • Outlook Rich Text format (RTF)     This is a Microsoft format that only the following e-mail applications support:

    • Microsoft Exchange Client versions 4.0 and 5.0

    • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007

    • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003

    • Microsoft Outlook 97, 98, 2000, and 2002

      You can use RTF when sending messages within an organization that uses Microsoft Exchange; however, we recommend that you use the HTML format. RTF supports text formatting, including bullets, alignment, and linked objects. Outlook automatically converts RTF formatted messages to HTML by default when you send them to an Internet recipient, so that the message formatting is maintained and attachments are received. Outlook also automatically formats meeting and task requests and messages with voting buttons so that these items can be sent intact across the Internet to other Outlook users, regardless of the default format of the message. If the Internet-bound message is a task or meeting request, Outlook automatically converts it to Internet Calendar format, a common format for Internet calendar items, so that other e-mail applications can support it.

  • HTML     This is the default message format in Outlook. It is also the best format to use when you want to create messages that are similar to traditional documents, with various fonts, colors, and bullet lists. By default, when you select either of the options that allow formatting (HTML or Rich Text), the message is sent in HTML format. So when you use HTML, you know that what you send is what the recipient will see.

Note: When you reply to a message, Outlook preserves the format of the original message. However, if you select the Read all standard mail in plain text option, Outlook formats your reply in plain text. Or you can click the InfoBar, change the format of the message to HTML or Rich Text, and then reply. If you change the format of the message, the reply is formatted with the new display format.

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Change the message format for all messages

You can configure Outlook so that all new e-mail messages use the message format of your choice.

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Mail Format tab.

  2. In the Compose in this message format list, click the format that you want.

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Change the message format for all messages sent to a specified Internet recipient

  1. Open the contact card for the recipient.

  2. In the E-mail box, double-click the recipient's e-mail address.

  3. In the Internet Format list, select the format that you want to use for messages to this recipient.

Note: You can change the format for only the messages sent to a contact with an SMTP e-mail address. An SMTP e-mail address contains the @ symbol — for example, If you are using an Exchange account and sending to another person in your organization who is also using an Exchange account, this feature is not available.

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Change the message format for one message

  1. Create a new message.

  2. With the message open, on the Message Options tab, in the Format group, click the format that you want to use (Plain Text, HTML, or Rich Text).

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