Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Using HTML stationery


By Diane Poremsky

Among Outlook's features is the ability to use HTML to send attractive emails. Many of us already take some advantage of this feature when we use HTML formatting for our email. Outlook offers more than just basic HTML capabilities. With Outlook, you can easily create attractive emails using stationery. In fact, several styles come with Outlook. You aren't limited to those styles, of course. You can create your own using Outlook, any HTML editor, or even Outlook Express.

If you are the creative type, you can search for "outlook stationery" on Google or your favorite search engine and find many Web sites with stationery others have created. The Microsoft news server, msnews.microsoft.com, has several stationery newsgroups where you can find stationery to use and learn how to create stationery with more advanced features.

You should note that with the security restrictions now in place in IE, Outlook and Outlook Express, many of the scripting features used to create active stationery are disabled. Outlook 2002 allows you to view email in the Internet zone. After opening an HTML message, look on the View menu for View in Internet Zone. You should only views messages in the Internet zone if you trust their contents, since scripts will run and could infect your system.

Now that you know where to find stationery, you need to know how to use it. For Outlook to know a piece of stationary exists, the HTML files need to be in the Stationery folder, found at C:&#92&#92Documents and Settings&#92&#92[username]&#92&#92Application Data&#92&#92Microsoft&#92&#92Stationery in Windows XP. If you're using Windows 98 or ME, you need to store your stationery at C:&#92&#92Program Files&#92&#92Common Files&#92&#92Microsoft Shared&#92&#92Stationery. You'll need to keep any images you use in the same folder, and "Send pictures from the Internet", found on the Format toolbar in Outlook editor, should be checked.

When you're ready to send email using stationery, use Outlook's Actions menu | New Mail Using. The most recent stationery selections you've used will be listed first, and pressing More Stationery will bring up a dialog listing the names of all available stationeries. The Get More Stationery button brings up the Microsoft Office downloads site. While you'll find some cool stationery here, you'll find many more using a Google search.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the standard warnings when using HTML formatting. First and foremost, make sure the recipient uses a program that can view HTML email. If you know they use Outlook or Outlook Express, then you only need to consider the message size. HTML, especially stationery with images, creates a much larger email than plain text. If the recipient is on a slow connection, it can take a long time to download messages using stationery. For this reason, reserve the use of stationery to special occasions-such as emailing birthday greetings or invitations.