Create Accessible Emails

Emails do not have to be just black text on a white background for them to be accessible. You can create accessible emails that stand out and are creative with the tools most of you already use everyday.

First Note: Do not try to make emails (or anything else) pixel perfect. No matter what, it will never look exactly the same on different screens. Some people have to view things at 1/4 the size and others need 4 times the size.

Second Semi Related Note: The more people that you send emails to the less complex it should be. In other words if you are sending an email to a few people you can add more images and formatting. If you are sending something to thousands of people then you will want to remove some of the images (keep the email small). Not everyone has email accounts that can hold a lot of large emails.

Using Outlook


  1. Open Microsoft Outlook
  2. Go to Tools > Options > Mail Format
  3. Select HTML in "Compose in this message format:"
  4. Press OK
  5. Start a new email.
  6. Check:
    • View > Web Layout is selected
    • View > Toolbars > Standard is selected
    • View > Toolbars > Formatting is selected
    • On the same row that the Send button is on you should see an option that says HTML. If it says Plain Text or Rich Text then change it.
  7. You are ready to start creating your email.

Start New Email

  1. Start a new email (if one is not already started).
  2. Add a subject. Keep it short but descriptive, no more then 6 or 7 words.
  3. Type your text as you normally would as if you were in Microsoft Word or Publisher
  4. Format the text as you normally would (text alignment, colors, sizes, etc).
  5. Be sure to format lists as list (highlight the items in the list and select the bullets or numbering option)
  6. Add images (Insert > Picture > Clip Art, From File, etc)
  7. If the picture contains relevant information then add alternate text for those who can not see it.
    • Right click on the image.
    • Click Format Picture...
    • Select the Web tab
    • Type the alternate text (keep it short and to the point)
    • Press OK
  8. Add a background color or image:
    • Format > Background
    • Pick a color or Fill Effects (background image)
    • If you choose Fill Effects and want to add an image then select the Picture tab.
    • Press Select Picture
    • Find the picture and press Insert
    • Press OK
  9. Put in the people you would like to send the email to and press Send
  10. Done.