Email Client Configuration

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The purpose of this page

This page collects configuration settings for different email clients to make it easy to adhere to the Email etiquette that participants to W3C mailing-lists should follow. This page is nowhere near completion, feel free to complete it with additional instructions for your own email client!

Email etiquette

While some of the rules may vary across W3C groups and mailing-lists, most W3C mailing-list participants are basically expected to adhere to the following email etiquette, adapted from the email etiquette of the WebApps Working Group:

  • Messages should be encoded using plain text. Anything in rich text will be lost by the archives and appear poorly to many readers before they get that far.
  • Messages should not use top-posting. See the WHATWG's top-posting guidelines for more information
  • When you reply to a message, please use ">" as your quotation character.
  • Do not prefix your content with something like "[myname]". Your content will be visible to everyone because it will *not* be prefixed by the quotation character (">").
  • Do not write at the top "comments inline". People will know your comments are inline.
  • Do strip quoted text which is not relevant to your reply.
  • Do not write in ALL CAPS. It is considered bad form. If you need to _underscore_ something, you can do so as such, if you wanted to *strengthen* something you can similarly, and if you want to provide a certain /italic/ style, you may do that as well.
  • If you need to include links within your message, please use [x] notation inline, and include the relevant links at the end of the message.
  • Attachments must follow the W3C Guidelines for Email Attachment Formats, in particular:
    • Avoid unnecessary email attachments.
    • Use an attachment only when it is likely to benefit to recipients. Otherwise, place the information (in plain text format) in the body of your message.
    • If an attachment is necessary, avoid formats that are virus prone, proprietary or platform dependent. For example, whenever possible you should use HTML instead of MS Word, PowerPoint or PDF.
    • Follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)


Apple Mail

OS X’s is relatively easy to configure. In "Preferences > Composing", choose Message Format “Plain Text”, and when replying to HTML messages, convert to plain text first (“Format > Make Plain Text”), that *usually* works well.

There are some other helpful hidden configuration options that make working with W3C MLs easier. For example, to display the Message-ID <> of a message to get the archive link to the message without leaving the email client (“Preferences > Viewing > Show header detail > Custom > add 'Archived-At'”).

Google GMail

To send emails in plain text, simply choose "Plain text" in the menu of the email composer window. Gmail will remember that setting for following messages.

You may also want to change the "Default reply behavior" to "Reply all" to avoid only replying to the sender of the message.

Note that Gmail makes it easy to top-post when you hit reply. In the Web interface, the quoted message you're replying to should appear upon clicking on "...", letting you strip and respond inline accordingly. In the mobile app, make sure you check the "Quote text" choice and hit "Respond inline".

Microsoft Outlook 2013

Microsoft Outlook 2013 sends emails in HTML by default. This can be changed on a message by message basis using the appropriate Format menu in the email composer. To send all emails in plain text, consider one of the following options:

  1. change the message format to plain text for *new* messages, see "Change the format of all new messages" in change the message format to HTML, Rich Text Format or Plain Text. Outlook will continue to preserve the original format upon reply, so if someone sends an email in HTML format, your need to remember to change the format of to plain text in the email composer window.
  2. tell Outlook read messages in plain text. This will make Outlook use plain text for all outgoing messages as well. Beware though: all messages that you receive will then be displayed as plain text. The result may not look nice on HTML messages that you may receive.
  3. use plain text for certain email addresses. That does not seem very convenient in a W3C context, though.

Microsoft Windows 8 Mail app

There is unfortunately no way to have this email client send plain text. It also does not quote the initial message upon reply, making it hard to use for W3C messages.

Mozilla Thunderbird

In "Tools > Options > Composition", select "Send Options..." in the "General" tab and "Convert the message to plain text" in the "Text Format" selection box.

Opera Mail

In "Tools > Mail Accounts...", select which account to "edit". In the "Outgoing" pane, select "Prefer Plain Text" in the drop down menu.

In the Compose e-mail window, two buttons override the general setting, find the two "Aa" buttons and toggle between "Use HTML Formatting" and "Use Plain Text".

There are some other helpful hidden configuration options that make working with W3C MLs easier. For example, to display the Message-ID <> of a message to get the archive link to the message without leaving the email client. In any e-mail, right-click in the header section and select "Customize...", add 'Archived-At', check its box and click "OK".

Other Resources