Considering so many clients ask for html e-mails these days, I thought it'd be good to open a thread that tried to resolve this problematic issue.

Firstly, from my own experience and from reading numerous scarce-resources, outlook signatures and templates should comply with html 4.0 standards (adding inline css styles is fine, if used as icing for the html).

Secondly, any logos etc should be linked to via absolute URLs (avoid attachments - e-mail clients can completely refuse any e-mails sent with attachments).

Where I get lost, is Outlook (particularly 2003). Creating a signature is fine, and from what I understand, Outlook 2003 creates a html, rtf, and txt template for your signatures, so as to guarantee the message will be recieved by all e-mail clients, in it's preferred format.

This is great, but for some reason, Outlook 2003 signatures add padding around signatures when you create your new message from it, and adds two divs at the top of the page (not good if you want a banner at the top of the e-mail, at 100% width. However, Outlook 2003 stationary behaves properly, and displays as it should ... but it doesn't make use of rtf and txt variants, so I suspect that it isn't full compliant with text-only e-mail clients.

So, I decided to create stationary for the general header, and insert a html signature for the body and footer. That way, if the recipient's e-mail client only accepted text, the html header would be lost, but at least the txt signature would be sent with a text footer(in theory). Before I tested this though, I realised that this is quite fiddly for a typical client to each time they sent an e-mail. Perhaps sticking to a signature that the user can automatically have applied to every new message would be the best option.

What are your experiences and methods?

Useful reading:
Style In Email:

CSS and Email: