Choosing a Font and Style for Your E-Mail Marketing Message - dummies

Choosing a Font and Style for Your E-Mail Marketing Message

By John Arnold

The fonts and styles of type you choose help get your e-mail marketing message across. Fonts and styles do a lot of work for your message: They make your words readable, add emphasis where you want it, suggest moods and emotions, and reinforce your brand.

Choosing a font for your e-mail marketing message

Because most e-mail programs use HTML to display e-mails, you either need to use the proper HTML codes to display the font and style you want your audience to see or work with an EMP that allows you to specify fonts and apply style elements to your fonts by using font tools in a special user interface:

[Credit: Courtesy of Constant Contact]
Credit: Courtesy of Constant Contact

A font specified in the HTML code has to be available on the user’s computer to display properly, so use fonts available in most e-mail programs, such as:


Too many different fonts in a single e-mail can make your text look disorderly and cluttered, so limit your e-mail’s text to just two or three different fonts. Using one font for all headlines and another font for all body text is an acceptable standard.

Applying style elements in your e-mail marketing messages

Altering the style of the fonts you choose gives you a variety of options for giving your e-mails a certain look and feel. The most useful style elements and their most appropriate applications include:

  • Bold text changes the weight of the text between the HTML tags <b> and </b> and creates a contrast that emphasizes the words in bold. Most e-mail editors allow you to change text to bold without inserting the HTML tags. Reserve bold text for headlines, captions, standalone words or phrases, short phrases, and single, crucial sentences.

    Bold text in the middle of a paragraph tends to take attention away from the surrounding text, so when you want to emphasize just one word in a paragraph, choose italics, not bold.

  • Italic text provides subtle emphasis to your words. Italics are a good choice for emphasizing a single word or short phrase in a paragraph, distinguishing subheadings, calling attention to proper names, and identifying the titles of books, movies, newspapers, and magazines.

    Italic text can be difficult to read on a computer screen, so limit the use of italics to single words and short phrases.

  • Underlined text emphasizes it and identifies hyperlinks. You can underline headlines to separate them from the following text, but be aware that people expect underlined text to represent a clickable link, so it’s best to meet that expectation when you can.

  • Size: Changing text point size makes a font larger or smaller and makes text easier to read on a computer screen. You can use different sizes to indicate headlines and links, deemphasize a large block of text, or help fit text into a confined space.

    If you decide to mix different point sizes, make sure that every type of textual content shares the same point size — each type of headline should use the same point size, for example.

  • Color: Different font colors can enhance the overall look and feel of your text and your entire e-mail. Using darker text and a lighter background usually produces more legible text onscreen. You can use color to indicate links, highlight headlines, and coordinate with branding items such as logos.

    Applying color to your text can make your words difficult to read. Make sure you have enough contrast between your font color and the background color of your text.