FAQ: Why does my email in Gmail look different than in Outlook?

Here’s the short answer: Every email client, such as Gmail or Outlook, reads HTML differently.

Every time you send out an email it is coded in the magical language of HTML. It doesn’t matter if you created it in the Basic Editor or the Advanced Editor or if you ever looked at the code. HTML is the language of email and the web and it lies beneath the surface of every email.

Now, every email client (think Gmail, Hotmail, or Outlook) has developed their own way of reading the HTML. Think of it like a differences in the English language. We spell color and our British friends spell colour. I say soda and my friends in the South say Coke. Neither interpretation is right or wrong, just different. Same goes for our email client friends.

So, why does it matter? Generally the differences between email clients are small and hard to detect. HOWEVER, occasionally the differences are quite noticeable and drastically change the look of your email. Sometimes one client might even break your email completely.

Enter the fun of email testing. It can be tempting to just send away once your email is completed, but without testing in the major email clients you are at risk of a major email faux pas. We recommend that you test your emails on the major email clients such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and Outlook. It is also important to test your email on mobile devices such as iPhones.

If you want to take the time and headache out of testing, check out Bright Peak’s email analysis service. They will test the email in all of the major email clients and mobile devices and give you a screen shot of the results to check for discrepancies.

View sample Rendering and Compatibility Analysis >

 Happy Emailing!

About Audrey Howes

Audrey has been an active member of the Swiftpage team since September 2009. Audrey manages Social Media and special projects with her marketing know-how and design expertise. When she’s not working you are likely to find her enjoying time with her family in the mountains near Steamboat, going for a run, reading a good book, being goofy with her kids, or savoring a latte in a local coffee shop.

4 Responses to “FAQ: Why does my email in Gmail look different than in Outlook?”

  1. Hi Audrey, this is very good information. I knew we should test and that the same email would different email clients but did not have a clue as to why. Thanks for the simple and understandable presentation.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. FAQ Friday: What does all this email marketing jargon mean? | Swiftpage Marketing Blog - August 10, 2012

    […] Email Client Also known as an email reader. Refers to any program used to access, read, and manage email. Common email clients include: Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL. We talk about email clients a lot when we talk about testing. Emails look different in every email client. […]

  2. FAQ Friday: Top 12 Swiftpage Connect FAQ Posts from 2012 | Swiftpage Marketing Blog - December 28, 2012

    […] 12. How do I make sure my email gets delivered? 11. How do I interpret online reports? 10. What is the landing page feature and why should I use it? 9. How do I make sure my email gets to the inbox? Part IV 8. How can I create an HTML template to use in the Advanced Editor? 7. Can I add a Swiftpage survey to my website? 6. How do I link to or unlink a PDF from my basic template? 5. What is and opt-out and why should I care? 4. What is a Bounce? 3. What size should my images be? 2. Why does my email in Gmail look different than in Outlook? […]

  3. FAQ Friday: Top 10 Swiftpage FAQs | Swiftpage Marketing Blog - May 3, 2013

    […] Why does my email in Gmail look different than in Outlook? We get this question a lot. The post explains the differences between email clients (like Gmail and Outlook) and what you can do about it. […]

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