Sunday, January 21, 2007

E-mail Newsletters - PDF or HTML? 

Okay, so I don't normally ask questions of my readers but I'm a bit stuck. If I wanted to create an e-mail newsletter, would it be best to convert a Word/Publisher/whatever document to PDF and insert it into an e-mail, or would it be best to write the e-mail in HTML (maybe using FrontPage) and send it out like that? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each method? What about other methods? Accessibility, usability, compatibility, ease-of-composition are what I'd like to consider. Any suggestions? Help most appreciated!
PDF means that people can't fiddle with the text of the document unless they have a PDF editor..which most people don't.

I use OpenOffice instead of Microsoft products for my wordprocessing, spreadsheets etc. Does most of what I want to do...and it does .pdf output. It's free and easy to download....the site is here.

Things like Frontpage usually put in heaps of gratuitious and painful extra tags that can be annoying. I'd say stick with the .pdf idea.
HTML email is a potential security problem: for instance spammers can send you email with one pixel-sized images that download from their site. That way they know you've read the email and that's it's a valid address. For that reason I always turn off html mail. In fact I have a filter that dumps them in the junk folder.

pdf has the problem of size. They can grow quite big and if your mailing list is quite long then you're forever sending out large attachments.

My solution is to create the newsletter as a pdf, and then deposit it on a site that people can download from. Then for each edition you can send out a text email with a link to that edition. It also means that people can go back and check the archives for anything they might of missed or if they've lost it.
Thanks so much guys! Great to be clued in about PDF vs HTML by some people I trust! Looks like I'll be sticking with the current format (I've inherited the newsletter) and maybe making it smaller in size (both in content and memory). I'd hate to be making life difficult for the recipients, contributors and myself, so I appreciate the feedback!
Hi Dee,

agree with both posters. FrontPage is renowned for putting in lots of crap and server side support on your hosting site.

PDF is very good if you have the full version available because you can adjust the amount of compression thus file sizes can be quite small. However as skribe says you don't want to be sending the PDF fifty times whatever the size. And if you are with Telstra s Bigpond is the only ISP that charges for uploads!

(I've just got back from a couple weeks away and will e-mail soon.)

Hi Andrew,

Hope you enjoyed your time away! Thanks for the feedback. I wouldn't use FrontPage for my own stuff, but work already has it and that's what I'll have to use to edit the Web site (although I can't work out how to look at the code, so maybe not - this is very trying indeed!). We currently write the newsletter in Word and then save it as PDF, which is fine but I need to then edit the PDF so that any hypertext that isn't given as the url will be usable. Aggh! :-)

Bye for now,

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