42 HTML email design resources
A summary of the best HTML email design resources, covering overviews, guidelines, standards, templates, checklists, design tools, galleries and more.
(Sharp-eyed observers will note that there are over 50 resources now listed. But 42 is a better number, so it stays in the title.)
There are numerous such resources, of course, but these are among the most useful...do suggest others in the comments.
Overview articles, collections, guidelines
Rock Solid HTML Emails: how to design an email that looks good in all popular email clients.
Design and Build Email Newsletters: design in the wider context of winning newsletters.
Email anatomy: outlines the structural anatomy of a marketing email and gives you a nice framework around which to hang your design approach.
Similar posts covering structure are The anatomy of an email and The perfect newsletter structure.
How to code HTML email newsletters: Extensive advice on use of HTML, CSS, tables (or not) etc.
Campaign Monitor: First port of call for HTML email resources. Check out their blog and HTML email design guidelines.
The Principles of Beautiful HTML Email: Looks at what makes "good, modern HTML email design."
A designer's guide to HTML email: Advice given in the context of a newsletter redesign project.
Email design for mobile devices: Articles and links on how to approach design in the context of mobile email.
Coding an HTML Email: Three-part article on how to turn a design into HTML.
Design and layout: ...category at the BeRelevant blog.
9 best practices for email design: Another good overview, this time from Vdot Media.
HTML email coding/delivery: Free 60+ page guide from MailChimp.
Email Design Review: Links, insight and examples at this design-dedicated blog.
Standards and support
Email Standards Project: Working to get email client developers to support a set of minimum standards for HTML email. Includes details of how each of the main clients currently in use shape up in this regard.
CSS support in email: Extensive guide from Campaign Monitor.
Forms in email: Details on which clients support forms, from Mark Wyner and from eROI.
Multimedia in email: Collection of articles and links on best practices with regard to videos in email.
Animated gifs: Another roundup from Campaign Monitor, this time of which clients support animation.
Michael Fasani: Sample code and rules for robust emails that he says work well in various display environments.
The Holy Mail: Glen Lipka's universal template.
MailChimp: Free HTML email templates, tested for cross-client conformity and with coding tips to boot.
Campaign Monitor: 30 free "safe" templates.
CarbonGraffiti: Ten "safe" templates in various formats (postcard, columns etc.).
Sendcube: 25+ "safe" templates for one and two column newsletters.
CakeMail: Basic and advanced newsletter templates.
The Email Experience Council: Their email design roundtable put together checklists for email coding and email design, which you can buy from their whitepaper room.
Smart Insights has a 24-point creative checklist for B2C and B2B newsletters.
Email design tools
Design preview tools: Inbox Inspector, Campaign Monitor, Email on Acid, and Litmus
HTML Email Analyzer: Firefox add-on that checks your email for potential problems relating to coding, deliverability and copywriting.
Fingerprint: Gives you information on which email clients your subscribers are using.
Premailer: Converts CSS styles to inline style attributes, plus other features.
More preview tools here, most of which are part of wider testing and service packages.
BEN - Beautiful Email Newsletters: Design showcase for aesthetically pleasing commercial emails.
Spam Meltdown: Hundreds of screenshots of emails arranged by design and topic themes (e.g. "rounded corners" or "coupons").
Email Design Gallery: Showcase of attractive emails, arranged by layout and messaging type.
Retail Email Blog: Reviews and screenshots of emails from leading online retailers. Check the Design Hall of Fame.
Smith-Harmon: Blog showcasing creative designs. Also check out their Email Design Look Book 2009.
Style Campaign: Blog with a focus on the use of animation, video and images in email.
Email Gallery: Emails for inspiration, by Alex Volocaru.
The Email Wars | Email Design: Another marketing blog written by an agency, but featuring a range of good (and often cutting edge) design.
The Email Zoo: Evaluates the best and the worst of email marketing, drawing on the expertise of various authors.
Inbox Award: Another showcase for the best in email design, but not limited to marketing emails only.
MarketingSherpa's Email Award Winner Gallery: Details of all the winning email campaigns, selected for their actual success in driving action or reaching goals, rather than how pretty they are.
Email Design Review: The "inspiration" category from the blog.
Image blocking and suppression in emails: Articles and links on how to design with blocked images in mind.
Nielsen Norman Group: big report with email newsletter design guidelines from a usability perspective.
What about text?
Which is better? This post and this one list the reasons for and against text/HTML as your preferred format.
More on HTML/CSS in emails | Tags: email design, html email, image blocking, css in email
Great list Mark. But I feel compelled to leave my own list (a measly 14 compared to your 42) but useful nonetheless.
By Jon Aizlewood, on 29 July, 2008
Oops, almost forgot - some more free (and safe, standards-compliant) email marketing templates are available at:
And CakeMail have just released a whole bunch, find them at:
By Jon Aizlewood, on 29 July, 2008
Thanks Jon. I'll add those two template collections to the main post.
By , on 29 July, 2008
a big thank you for talking about us! We're happy to inform you www.cakemail.com just released new templates. You might be interested to discover them :-)
By Isabel Lapointe, on 03 December, 2008
Thanks: I'll take a good look when you've had a chance to build out your collection. Looks promising.
By , on 31 July, 2009
Brilliant roundup of some of the less obvious books out there. Some of these look incredibly useful and yet I haven't seen them on any other resources list before. Thanks.
By Bex White, on 10 October, 2009
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Great find. Quality stuff. Much appreciated.
By , on 28 October, 2009
This list is just fantastic Mark! It may be a bit 'aged', but it's still very relevant now at the end of 2009. In my opinion there just aren't enough people using these resources!
By email templates, on 23 December, 2009
thanks for this list, it's in my bookmarks now! I have one more -
A blog I've launched over the last few weeks focusing email design best practice and showcasing a gallery of good email marketing design.
By Elliot Ross, on 01 February, 2010
Thanks Elliot: I added you to the post in a couple of places...
By , on 01 February, 2010
Comments closed for this post