Establishing Settings for Your Message

Whether you've created a blank email message or built one from a Word document, when you open Word's email tools, you can enter, edit, and format your message. You can also do the following:

  • Specify recipients (primary, "carbon copies," and "blind carbon copies")

  • Specify a subject for the message

  • Add file attachments

  • Set the importance of your message

  • Check to make sure that you typed the recipients' names properly

  • Create follow-up reminders for yourself

  • Prepare a blind carbon copy, which prevents others from knowing that a given individual received it

  • Add file attachments

  • Set various other options

These tasks are covered in the following sections.


Much of the coverage in this chapter assumes that you are also running Microsoft Outlook 2003?either as part of Microsoft Office 2003 or as a program you have purchased and installed separately.

Specifying How Your Message Is Formatted

Word supports three email message formats:

  • HTML. Word's default setting, HTML allows you to format messages using the same types of graphics and text attributes found in Web pages. HTML-formatted messages can be read by most contemporary email client software, including Microsoft Outlook 2003 and Outlook Express, recent versions of Eudora and Netscape Messenger, and some versions of Lotus Notes.

  • Rich text. This captures nearly all the formatting found in any Word document; in fact, it corresponds to the RTF format that has long been used to exchange Word documents.

  • Plain text. This is the basic "lowest common denominator" ASCII character set virtually every messaging system understands.

HTML and rich text?formatted messages can communicate far more effectively than plain text messages. However, there are significant disadvantages to them, as well:

  • Many people and companies still depend on email readers that can handle only ASCII text messages (though this is gradually changing). Although HTML support in email readers is widespread, using rich text is viable primarily in environments where you can be sure that all your recipients are using Microsoft Office. Borders, highlighted text, tables, bulleted lists, and numbered lists are especially troublesome for non-Office users attempting to read rich text emails.

  • Some users prefer not to receive HTML or rich text messages, which take longer to download. This is especially the case for international users, who may be paying on a per-minute basis to download their messages.

  • Other users prefer to avoid HTML messages due to privacy concerns. For instance, HTML messages can contain the same 1x1 transparent GIFs that many Web pages use to track their visitors. (This is not an issue with rich text messages.)

  • When rich text messages are sent over the Internet, it's possible that formatting and attachments will be lost. Many email clients and servers can't interpret rich text messages. Instead a file, Winmail.dat, is included with the email message. If your recipients are receiving Winmail.dat files instead of the proper attachments, switch to HTML or plain text instead of rich text formatting.


Note, however, that Outlook 2003 deactivates scripts and ActiveX controls received in HTML messages. This means that HTML messages should be more secure than they were in earlier versions of Outlook. Outlook 2003 also includes built-in functionality to disable Web bugs embedded in HTML emails.

You can choose the format you want to use in your current message from the Message Format drop-down box (refer to Figure 30.1). To set a default format for all your messages, follow these steps in Outlook 2003:

  1. Choose Tools, Options.

  2. Click the Mail Format tab.

  3. From the Compose In This Message Format drop-down box, choose the format you want to standardize on: HTML, Rich Text, or Plain Text.

  4. Click OK and exit Outlook 2003.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word