Dirty font tag secrets

Summary:I nearly used the font tag. There, I said it.Being freelance, I get used to the gritty reality of web development.

I nearly used the font tag. There, I said it.

Being freelance, I get used to the gritty reality of web development. Case in point, building HTML emails. CSS3?! I don’t think so, you’ll be lucky to get margin-top working (thanks, Hotmail). Background images? No, not without Outlook, which can be shortened to withOutLook. Oh, and the reams of inline styling. Delight.

Campaign Monitor have a fantastic resource, called Guide to CSS support in email, detailing which email client supports what CSS (hint, Microsoft doesn’t come out brilliantly). On the one hand, it makes for sorry reading, as though the Web Standards Project never existed. On the other, it is joyous to see how far we have come with regard to browser support, and the excitement of Responsive and Adaptive Web Design.

As previously intimated, there is no such thing as a cascading stylesheet with HTML emails, you have to write the CSS for every single HTML element. On the previous file I was working from, someone had styled the anchor tag, and then added a styled font tag. For those that don’t know, this is akin to praising the health benefits of menthol cigarettes.

The dreaded font tag
The dreaded font tag in action, conflating semantics and presentation.

I asked a colleague if the font tag was helping out the HTML email at all. He didn’t know but advised leaving it in, just in case! I have dared leave out, to hell with bad email clients. Unless, of course, it is required by withOutLook ;)


Topics: Developer


A web designer since the 20th century, I am a pragmatic advocate of Free Software and I use proprietary software when appropriate. I made the full-time switch to Linux back in 2007, and my desktop tools of choice are Linux Mint, Inkscape, GIMP and Sublime Text. As a Front End Developer, my core skills are HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery, an... Full Bio

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