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Chapter 3. Sending and Receiving E-mail > Creating a New E-mail Message

Creating a New E-mail Message

You can create a new e-mail message in a number of ways. The simplest way is to press the key combination Ctrl+N when the current Outlook folder is an e-mail folder. The menu option for creating a new message is Actions, New Mail Message. Selecting this option opens a new e-mail message using the default e-mail editor and e-mail format. You will learn how to set your default e-mail editor and e-mail format in “Setting E-mail Preferences” later in this chapter.


If you are currently in a Contacts folder and have a contact selected, you can select Actions, New Message to Contact to open a new e-mail message already addressed to that contact. You will learn more about addressing e-mails later in this chapter.

Working with E-mail Formats

Outlook provides three formats in which you can send e-mails:

  • HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)— An Internet standard for formatted messages and the default format for Outlook 2003 e-mails.

  • Plain Text— Unformatted e-mails that can be read by any e-mail client.

  • Rich Text Format (RTF)— A proprietary Microsoft format for formatted messages that can be understood only by Outlook, and another e-mail client named Eudora.

Outlook can use one of two editors for working with e-mail: Microsoft Word and the Outlook editor. Word provides more text formatting options and has the full power of a word processor. The Outlook editor is certainly adequate but doesn't offer the full set of features provided by Word. Both Word and the Outlook editor support all three e-mail formats.

So, which format should you use, and when should you select other formats for specific e-mail messages? Each format has advantages and disadvantages, as shown in Table 3.1.

You can open a new e-mail message using a specific e-mail format by selecting Actions, New Mail Message Using, and clicking on Plain Text, Rich Text, or HTML.

Some Outlook features that you will learn about later in this book, such as sending an e-mail with voting buttons used to return the recipient's vote to approve or reject a proposal, work only when using Rich Text format. Rich Text format is also required for sending Outlook items such as contacts and tasks correctly to other people. Some people use e-mail clients that don't understand HTML messages; you will want to send e-mail to those people using Plain Text format. You can change the format of an open e-mail message, to send the message to people who use different e-mail clients or to remove or add formatting for messages. If you change the format from HTML or Rich Text to Plain Text, you will be warned that all message formatting will be lost. Select Yes to continue with the format change or No to cancel changing the message format.

Table 3.1. E-mail Format Advantages and Disadvantages
E-mail FormatAdvantagesDisadvantages
HTMLFormatted text.

Internet standard.

Can show pictures in the body of an e-mail.

Can use stationery to provide background images or patterns for formatted e-mails.
Larger size e-mails produced using HTML than the other formats.

Older style e-mail readers such as Pine can't understand HTML.

Possible to exploit HTML formatting tags to send viruses for spam techniques.
Plain TextSmallest message size. Cannot be used for inline viruses or spam techniques.Unformatted text layout.
Rich Text (RTF)Formatted text.

Used for sending custom Outlook forms and Outlook items such as contacts and tasks.

Small size for formatted text messages.

Can show pictures in the body of an e-mail.
Understood only by Outlook and Eudora.

You change an existing e-mail format differently depending on which e-mail editor you are using:

  • Word editor— Select the format drop-down in the E-mail toolbar and choose the desired format for this message.

  • Outlook editor— Select the format from the Format menu.

Figure 3.8 shows the format drop-down in the E-mail toolbar in an e-mail using Word as the editor.

Figure 3.8. The Format drop-down in an e-mail using Word as the editor enables you to change message format.

Table 3.2 shows the alternate formats available in the Format menu in the Outlook editor for each e-mail format.

Table 3.2. Alternate Formats with the Outlook Editor
Current FormatAvailable Alternate Formats
HTMLPlain Text
Plain TextHTML, Rich Text
Rich TextPlain Text


When you send e-mails to people who do not use Outlook, never use Rich Text Format (RTF). Use only HTML or Plain Text formats. If the recipient of a Rich Text e-mail is using an e-mail client that doesn't understand Rich Text, he or she will receive a Plain Text message with an attached Winmail.dat file. This attachment contains the Rich Text formatting and cannot be deciphered unless the recipient is using Outlook or Eudora.

Addressing and Sending an E-mail

Each e-mail has three address fields that you can use to address the e-mail to other people. An e-mail can be addressed directly to one or more people, it can be carbon copied (Cc), or it can be blind carbon copied (Bcc). You will learn about carbon copying and blind carbon copying in a later section of this chapter.

To address an e-mail to one or more people, either type the e-mail address in the To field or select the To button. Selecting the To button opens the Select Names dialog, shown in Figure 3.9.

Figure 3.9. The Select Names dialog enables you to address e-mails using existing contact e-mail addresses.

Highlight the desired recipient or recipients from the address book shown in the Select Names dialog and click on the To button to add the selected e-mail addresses to the To field of the e-mail. You can also double-click one or more highlighted recipients to add them to the To field. When you are finished adding e-mail addresses to the To field, click OK to close the Select Names dialog and return to the e-mail.


You can resend an e-mail—for example, if the recipient doesn't originally receive it. To resend an e-mail, open the e-mail and select Actions, Resend This Message. A new copy of the original message is opened in which you can add or remove recipients, change the subject or message text, add or remove attachments, and change any other message settings or options just as you can with a new e-mail.

When you are finished composing and addressing the e-mail, you can set options for the e-mail, which you will learn about in Chapter 4, before you send it. You can also attach files or Outlook items to the e-mail, which you will learn how to do later in this chapter.

To send the finished e-mail, click Send on the toolbar or press the key combination Ctrl+Enter.

Sending Rich Text Messages Over the Internet

Sending a Rich Text Formatted (RTF) message over the Internet, required when sending Outlook items such as contacts and tasks, can be difficult to do successfully, especially when you are using Exchange server. Outlook has a tendency to convert Rich Text messages sent over the Internet into HTML messages, which prevents an Outlook item from being received correctly. Some of the settings necessary for correct transmission of Rich Text can be set only by the Exchange administrator.

One setting that is under your control is the format setting for the contact in the contact record. To see this setting in an e-mail message, right-click a recipient in To field and select Outlook Properties to open the recipient's contact record. Right-click the e-mail address in the contact record and select Outlook Properties again to open the dialog shown in Figure 3.10. If you entered an e-mail address instead of selecting a contact, you have to select Outlook Properties only once to display the E-mail Properties dialog.

Figure 3.10. The E-mail Properties dialog enables you to change how e-mails are sent to the contact over the Internet.

The default setting for Internet format is Let Outlook decide the best sending format. Often, using this setting can lead to the e-mail being converted to HTML. To ensure that Rich Text Format is used for the selected contact, select the Send using Outlook Rich Text Format option. Click OK to close the E-mail Properties dialog, and if a contact record was opened, select Save and Close to save the change and ensure the e-mail is sent in Rich Text Format.


If you don't want to always use Rich Text Format for that contact, change the setting back to Let Outlook decide the best sending format after the e-mail is sent.

There is a similar setting in the dialog opened by selecting Tools, Options, Mail Format, Internet Options. The drop-down for the format used when sending Rich Text messages is a global setting for all messages sent over the Internet by Outlook. The setting you just learned to set is a per e-mail account setting, which gives you much greater control over the way messages are sent.

If the global setting is changed from Convert to HTML format to Send using Outlook Rich Text format, all Rich Text messages are sent to everyone as Rich Text. The global setting overrides the default Let Outlook decide the best sending format setting in the contact's e-mail address properties. This can result in accidentally sending Rich Text messages to people whose e-mail clients can't understand Rich Text, with possible loss of information or formatting. The best way to control who gets Rich Text formatted messages is on a per e-mail account basis, as you learned how to do in this section.

Carbon Copying and Blind Carbon Copying

In addition to sending e-mails directly to people on the To address line, you also can carbon copy and blind carbon copy an e-mail to people.

Carbon copying people in an e-mail is similar to sending interoffice memos in business, with the memo sent directly to some people and with other people in the Cc (carbon copy) address field. The distinction between sending directly to someone and sending a Cc of a message is that people in the To field are expected to take some action as a result of the message, such as replying to it. People who are carbon copied with the message aren't expected to take any action; they are copied so they are aware of the message.

Blind carbon copying (Bcc for blind carbon copy) is a method of copying someone with a message without enabling any of the other recipients of the message to know the person was copied. The only person who can see the Bcc address field in a message is the person who sent the message. Although Bcc has many legitimate uses, you should be aware that it is also a technique used by spammers. Many of the spam e-mails you receive won't show that the message was addressed to you, an indication the message was Bcc'd to your e-mail address.

The Cc address field is always shown in an e-mail message. The Bcc address field is not shown by default. The method for showing the Bcc address field in an e-mail message depends on which e-mail editor you're using—Word or the Outlook editor:

  • For e-mails using Word as the e-mail editor, show the Bcc address field by clicking the down arrow to the right of the Options button on the E-mail toolbar in an open e-mail and selecting Bcc, as shown in Figure 3.11.

    Figure 3.11. To show the Bcc Address field in an e-mail using Word as the e-mail editor, you use the Options drop-down.

  • For e-mails using the Outlook editor, show the Bcc address field by selecting View, Bcc Field in an open e-mail.


If you blind carbon copy someone in an e-mail, and the Bcc'd recipient doesn't realize he or she was Bcc'd on a message and then uses Reply to All, the rest of the original recipients will also receive a copy of the reply. They will then know that person was copied without the other recipients' knowledge. If an e-mail contains extremely sensitive content, you might consider sending a separate e-mail to the person instead of blind carbon copying him or her.

Showing the Bcc address field is a toggle setting. After you show the Bcc address field, it will continue to be displayed in all e-mail messages until you toggle the setting again.

Adding a recipient to the Cc or Bcc address fields follows the same procedure as adding a recipient to the To field, which you learned how to do earlier in this chapter. You either type a valid e-mail address in the Cc or Bcc address field or select Cc or Bcc to open the Select Names dialog. In the Select Names dialog, highlight the Cc or Bcc recipient and click on either the Cc or Bcc button.

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