Raise HECK's Year-End Cheat Sheet for Avoiding WYSIWYG Pitfalls

Raise HECK’s holiday gift to you is this quick cheat sheet for a shortcut to set up an email using any WYSIWYG tool while avoiding common pitfalls.

Happy end-of-year fundraising season! We hope you’re all set with your email campaigns for the rest of this month. We also hope that you’re an expert at using your chosen email tool to set up and design them, or that you’re working with fantastic consultants. If neither of those is true, then maybe you’re doing the best you can, and sometimes wonder why your emails look a little off.

Inevitably, there will come a time when you yourself or someone on your staff needs to send a rapid-response email and your in-house expert or skilled consultants are not available. If you need to get something out quick and dirty, that’s great - and less dirty is even better.

The most common formatting problem in WYSIWYG editors stems from copy-and-pasting text from a document editor or web page that brings along with it some invisible HTML tags that override your preferred formatting.

You might think you’re simply copying and pasting text - but when you copy and paste from Microsoft Word, Google Documents, and most web pages, you’ll inevitably pick up some extra tags that override your style sheet. I’m talking about < span >, < div >, and < font > definition tags, among others. You might also be pasting curly quotes that get garbled in the plain text versions. And you might paste an HTML link that retains a source code or a personalized link that could cause trouble if you send it out.

One way to avoid this is to retype your email by hand into the WYSIWYG editor - but let’s get real, who has the time? You can also save your Word doc as plain text and then reopen with Notepad - but again, who has the time? Here’s a faster way:

Quick but not Dirty Cheat Sheet for Avoiding WYSIWYG Pitfalls

  • Open your email tool to the WYSIWYG editor
  • Start with a blank email
  • Switch over to HTML view
  • Copy and paste the text from your Word doc or web page
  • Check to see if you have curly quotes or apostrophes, and replace them with straight ones
  • Switch back to WYSIWYG view
  • Add the paragraph breaks, bold and italic formatting, images and links using the WYSIWYG as normal
  • Ensure that any image you add is not wider than 600px (so it doesn’t obliterate the view on mobile devices)

Voila! You have an email that will not harbor any invisible < div > or < span > tags, and won’t change your org-approved Arial 11 font to a rogue Times New Roman 12.

If you’re duplicating, copying or cloning a previous email that already looks good and passed testing, that’s great. You can use this technique to paste in new text if you need to, or if you don’t need to make many changes, you can type them in by hand.

Happy raising heck for end of year 2019! Let’s go change the world!