The plaintext version of your mailing is automatically delivered to any contacts who can't receive HTML. It may lack the style and grace of its HTML sibling, but it serves an important purpose. After all, up to 25% of your contacts may receive that version -- an estimate that can vary wildly based on your particular audience. So while plaintext may be the after-dinner mint to your HTML entree, it shouldn't be a mere afterthought. Once you've created your mailing, switch to plaintext view and consider making edits for readability or to rearrange the order of your content.
Give your plaintext some attention by switching from HTML view to plaintext view at the top-right of your mailing.
Here are some quick tips for making your plaintext pretty.
1. Don't touch the plaintext until the HTML is done. Your plaintext is built for you from the text of your HTML version, so it's easiest if you focus on the HTML, get that completely done and then turn your attention to the plaintext. If you do change the plaintext and then make changes to the HTML, you'll notice the option appears to refresh your text to incorporate those changes.
2. Clean up the line breaks. Plaintext is a fairly ignorant creature, and it doesn't always get line breaks right. Which is why when you first preview your plaintext you may see some lines ending abruptly. Spend a minute cleaning up those line breaks, and it will make a big difference. To do this, place your cursor in front of the first word on the next line and then hit backspace to remove the break and join the two lines.
3. Use spacing, dashed lines and other characters to make things more readable. Without the benefit of bold headlines, colors and other rich formatting, plaintext requires a bit more creativity when it comes to making headlines and important content stand out. Try putting spaces or dashed lines between sections, and using CAPS in place of the bolds you've used on the HTML side.
4. For longer emails, consider putting a brief summary or menu at the top. If your HTML mailing has two columns, remember that in the plaintext you have just one. Which means that sidebar that fits nicely at the top of one version will be pushed down to the very bottom in the other. If the sidebar is important, consider mentioning it near the top of your email so folks know there's reason to scroll, or try incorporating the sidebar elements into the main body. Also remember that those nice images you used in the sidebar of your HTML won't appear, so your captions will need to stand on their own.
5. Think about your preview text.
You may have noticed an option to send your mailings with preheader text. This gives you a chance to populate that line of preview text that most inboxes display below your subject line in the inbox or mobile preview window. If you choose not to use preheader text, it's likely that the first few lines of your plaintext email will be pulled in to populate the preview text. Depending on how your mailing is laid out, you might see social sharing icons or alt text image pulled in here from your plaintext. If you're opting out of preheader text, make a point to review the first few lines of your plaintext email.
6.. What is the plaintext experience like? Send it to yourself to find out. The best way to proof your plaintext is the same way you proof your HTML -- by sending it to yourself or someone in your test group. Go to your contact record on the Audience page, and set your preferred format to plaintext. If you have two email addresses for yourself, even better -- You can set one to receive HTML and the other to receive plaintext. And you'll experience each version the same way your recipients will.