This debate has been going on for some years now. While the majority have supported HTML-formatted emails, the answer is not so simple. When it comes to email marketing, open rates are an important KPI. So, you inevitably want to test different ways to improve your particular metrics.

However, do you fully understand each available option? This article will teach you everything you need to know about plain text and HTML emails. Thus, when you produce your next email marketing campaign, you will be more confident in the choice you make.

Plain Text vs. HTML Emails: An Overview

Without a doubt, each type is an effective way to engage with your audience and to encourage them to read and follow your CTA. Nonetheless, you want to figure out which one produces better results.

Plain Text: It is straightforward; there are just words on a page. The message is written without code, so the email is basic. Furthermore, there aren’t any visuals, such as GIFs or moving images.

Example of Plain Text email.
Example of Plain Text email

Furthermore, a plain text email should not have any additional colors, designs, or fancy fonts. Even the links should be embedded as simple words without anything extra.

You may know that in the early days, plain text emails were the most popular choice among all brands. In fact, in America or other English-speaking countries, the emails were and are still written via the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII). While they had no information regarding the font, size, or color of the text, the email program could decide how to display them.

You may read the email in Times New Roman 12, but the person next to you can read it in Calibri 14. If you have international customers and you want to personalize the plain text email, you will need to use different ASCII sets.

If you ever think about going retro or want to do something special, you should use ASCII graphic art. This will have a positive effect on open and engagement rates. Take a look at the masterpiece below.

ASCII graphic art.
ASCII graphic art

Even though this was created in the 1960s, it’s still used today even in online communities such as Reddit. The main idea is that plain text emails are limited due to ASCII itself. Meaning, you have little control over styling the text. However, without a doubt, they are still used today by brands. Some brands use this style when sending out sales letters or even updates about a particular order. If you want to engage one-on-one with a customer, you want to use this type of format. This is because it’s easy to understand and use, and it gets the message across much more clearly.

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, which essentially means code. When composing an email in such format, you can dress it and style it however you want by using dynamic features.

Primarily, you will code a document that has been made from ASCII text which lets a web browser know how to render information.

Similarly, like web pages, these emails have everything a plain text email does not. This can include videos, images, and other multimedia elements. Therefore, you will have more freedom to design the email campaign according to your aims and objectives.

Arguably, the more visually engaging the email is, the higher the probability that the recipient will follow the CTA button.

HTML Emails Vs. Plain Text Emails

As you can experiment more with HTML emails, it is more likely that you will mess up. One of the biggest challenges that you will face is the HTML email alerting the spam filters. This means that the antivirus software by each email provider will automatically strip all CSS styles from the email. Thus, by the time it reaches the recipient, the email will be mainly as a shell with no real information provided.

Winner: If you want to send a network follow-up or a simple outreach, it’s best to use plain text. However, if you're going to sell a product or a service, HTML is your best choice as it is more engaging. Furthermore, a newsletter is essential to keep the recipient interested in your emails. Thus, it would be best if you created it in HTML to reach its full potential.


To keep on top of email marketing and competitors, you must analyze data as soon as you receive it. It will help you know your customers by:

• understanding what they engage the most with

• what they don’t like

• When to send and not to send an email

It is essential to mention that it does not matter which type of format you choose if you don’t send the email at the right time. If you want to learn a few tips and tricks, take a look at this article.

Winner: Your best option is HTML emails as they are much easier to track and analyze than plain text. You cannot even follow factors such as open rates with plain text emails because you must have an HTML snippet embedded in it. In addition to this, the CTA button must stand out for the recipient to follow it.

Which is more accessible - HTML Emails or Plain Text?

When discussing accessibility, we refer to how accessible the technology is to people with different disabilities. If you want your brand to be recognized, you must ensure that all kinds of people have access to it. So, are you aware of whether a blind person can read your email?

Winner: With an HTML email, you cannot transform it into an email that everyone can read. This is why, in this situation, the winner is a plain text format. Even though on the desktop, you can transform the HTML email into its original format, it will be displayed, including the code.

Tip: Give the recipient the option to choose whether they want to receive plain text or HTML emails.

You cannot do branding with plain-text emails. This is why whenever you have a new subscriber to the email list, they have the option to choose which method they prefer or which best suits their particular needs.