What HTML to use in Thunderbird?

Hello. I am trying to set up a signature line in Thunderbird, and what should be simple is turning out to be a real pain. :smashy:

Here is the HTML that I started off with…

Direct: (212) 555-1234<br>
Toll-Free: (800) 555-9999</p>

In typing class in junior high many years ago, I was taught that there should always be 3 empty lines between “Sincerely” and your name.

Q1.) Why do I have to put in an extra < br> to get the roper spacing?

So the above code sorta works, but when sending a new e-mail, there is a blank first line in the email and the style associated with it is “Body Text”, and then if I go to the next line where my “Sincerely” is located, it says “Paragraph” for the style.

Q2.) Where does this first blank line come from?

Q3.) Why does it say “Body Text” when the signature I added says “Paragraph”?

Next, I tried this code…

<p>Dear ,</p>

Direct: (212) 555-1234<br>
Toll-Free: (800) 555-9999</p>

Now when I send a new e-mail, I again get a blank first line of type “Body Text”, and then the remaining lines are marked as “Paragraph”.

Q4.) Why is the first line, which is “Body Text” and other lines like “Dear ,” and “Sincerely” which are “Paragraph” look like they have a bottom padding of maybe 0.75em, yet the lines between “Sincerely” and “UpstateLeafPeeper” - which are my < br > just look like single lines with now padding?

What I wanted was to see “Dear ,” on the first line of a new e-mail, followed by my signature block, and the spacing should look normal.

Q5.) How do I get that?

Q6.) How can I get all of this sorted out so that the spacing looks normal?

Q7.) Why is formatting e-mails such a PITA?

Not sure how this relates to the question.

The style associated with anything before your signature is Body Text because it’s in the <body> of the email.

You start your signature with a <p> tag, put your cursor at the S in Sincerely, and it tells you your style is now a Paragraph… care to take a guess at what <p> means? :wink:

Q1) Where do you define ‘extra’ br? I see exactly as many BR’s as there should be for the formatting you describe.

Q2) The empty line BEFORE your signature? Thunderbird is inserting a blank line between the body of the email and the signature, as a standard practice for separating body and signature.

Q3) Ah, so here’s where that text should have gone. See above.

Q4) The breaking rules for lines and paragraphs are different. BR breaks a line. The end of a Paragraph block breaks the paragraph.

Q5) How are you injecting this HTML into Thunderbird? If you’re putting this ALL in as a signature, then see Q2.

Q6) Define your paragraph breaking rules and your line breaking rules to be the same. I’m not sure that will affect the output on the customer’s end though…

Q7) Because.

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So my email is already being put into a < body > element, and my signature is inserted inside that < body > that Thunderbird is creating for me?

If you read my OP you’ll see I am doing that…

Type-o in my OP. In Thunderbird I have…

and so on...

Why do I need 4 br in a row to get 3 lines?


I am not following you here…

So a paragraph has padding and a < br > doesn’t?

Is that true if I was coding straight up HTML?

Not following you here…

Upon further inspection, here is what is confusing me…

In Thunderbird, when you see “Body Text” as the style, there is no padding on lines and things appear like in a text editor.

If a line says “Paragraph” for Thunderbird’s style, then it appears maybe you have this: padding: 0.5em 0;

What is driving me crazy is this inconsistency in line spacing/padding between my email body and my signature.

How can I make it so every line is spaced the same?

And how can I set the line spacing as I want?

Prior to switching to am email client like Thunderbird, I was used to my emails being formatted like I was typing in a text editor where there was no line spacing, and if you wanted spaces, e.g. between "Sincerely," and "UpstateLeafPeeper" then you would just hit a couple of times, juts like back in the old days on a typewriter.

Of course if I was doing this on a web page it wouldn’t be an issue since I would have complete control of my CSS.

So maybe that is what I am fighting… Maybe my issue is with Thunderbird’s built in styles/stylesheet?

Am I making any sense?

And if so, how can I get this fixed?


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Correct, for an HTML-based email, your email text goes into the body.

You shouldn’t. That would be rather odd.

The first block of text i quoted in my reply was positioned under Q1, but it actually referred to Q3. It confused me at first. The text from before I started going through the Q#'s answers Q3.

Depends on if your CSS defines it to be so. In Thunderbird, there must be some defined property that specifies a break width.

Then either don’t make your signature a Paragraph (so that it should default back to Body Text), or make your body into paragraphs too… Which I had thought was the default for Thunderbird when writing an HTML email, but its been a few years since I’ve used it…

Is it a problem to send HTML emails to people?

I recall hearing they are more likely to get flagged or cause issue.

Q1.) You have to put an extra br because you never closed the paragraph tag before “Sincerely,”

editing this in just in case it’s necessary. paragraphs are block level elements. if you throw a BR tag inside a block level element then the new line is created before the end of the block. Closing the paragraph will add a new line which removes the need for the 4th BR.

Q2.) answered

Q3.) I didn’t read all this, pretty sure it’s because everything after sincerely is all part of the same paragraph. You need to close paragraphs and I’d only use BR for the spacing after sincerely.

Q5.) Put each section inside of a div probably, purely html talking, I don’t know Thunderbird.

Q6.) Make sure HTML is formatted correctly.

Q7.) It isn’t if you do it correctly.

Thunderbird makes it sound like some people cannot receive HTML emails.

If true, then maybe formatting my emails as HTML and/or having an HTML sig line is a bad idea? :wonky:

And some people (me, for example) have turned off HTML in emails.

This is why.

The way it normally works is that you generate an HTML version of your mail and an accompanying plaintext version. Most backend frameworks offer a method of doing this. You then send both parts to the client and the client and let it choose which version it displays.

P.S. If, after clicking through to the link above, you’re interested in seeing if your email client leaks info, try this: Email Privacy Tester.


I always used to do that, but I gave up in the end because so many places don’t send a plain-text version. They should, but they don’t. Same for image-based emails, where all you get is an image of their print advert for a product or event. I’ve had a few spats with people on that subject, quoting accessibility laws and the like, but it’s easier to just ignore them.


Just when I thought that I knew a lot of security I get schooled again!

Very educational link - thanks!!

First off, let me say that my OP was trying to learn more about HTML signature lines and then HTML emails, not because I am a spammer, but quite the opposite. You see, it seems that next to no one ever opens up emails from my business. :cry:

I asked my webhost and they ran a test and said my email set up was perfect - we ran some wizard for which I forget the name.

The tech mentioned that no having an email signature can sometimes get you flagged as spam ironically.

So I had a plain-text signature like this…

Tele #: ------

But I thought maybe it would be better to have a nicer looking HTML signature line so recipients take me more seriously, and so email systems don’t flag me as spam.

Make sense?

After reading that Wired article, I feel completely depressed about email in general. And maybe that explains why everyone ignores me and my (non-sales) e-mails. :wonky:

Why stop there? I feel depressed at the state of online security/privacy in general. But that’s getting off topic…

I wouldn’t take it personally, but when world+dog wants me to subscribe to their email newsletter and my inbox gets as bombarded with as much rubbish as it does, the barrier to catching someone’s attention via mail is high.

For example, I used to be responsible for SitePoint’s (now discontinued) JavaScript newsletter. It had a decent number of subscribers, but most of the things I tried to increase that number had relatively little impact. There’s just too much noise out there.

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Yes, I agree. :cry:

So in what context do people still use email?

Since my website/business are not done, I don’t have customers to interact with yet.

The types of emails I have sent include a.) complimenting others on their work/articles/websites/businesses, b.) reaching out to others trying to partner up, c.) asking questions from experts in my area, etc.

If people won’t respond to compliments in a.) above, then I give up.

What is also strange to me is that first of all, I not only get very little email (personal or business), but I don’t even get much spam. And when I do get any email, if it looks legit, then I open and read it.

Apparently the rest of the world does not do that…


And is there any practical use for email when I get my website up and my business going?

Again, I have no need to solicit people, BUT I don’t understand why when I contact other businesses/professionals/experts, that I get no acknowledgement of my emails.

Like let’s say I wanted to interview someone for an article I am doing. if they won’t read my email, then how do I contact them? :wonky:

If they don’t respond, send them a follow up mail some time later. If they still don’t respond, leave them in peace.

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So do HTML emails get blocked by most people? Or are they unreadable by most people?

It wasn’t clear to me from your write up earlier what would happen if I sent you an HTML email.

Would I be better to just go pure-text in my emails?

And do you think any of this has to do with my horrible response rate? or is it just a matter that nobody reads email any more?

That kinda depends on how you have your email client set up to send mail.
This is what mine looks like:

Screenshot from 2020-06-28 12-17-52

As you can see, I am sending messages in both formats where possible, so if you are viewing messages as plain text, you should be covered.



If I choose that option, will I be sending TWO emails to people - thus spamming them for sure?

Or is Thunderbird smart enough to send an HTML email OR a Text email, but NOT BOTH?

If you don’t think the format of my emails is the problem with a horrible response rate, then what is the reason?

You won’t be sending two emails, rather one email made up of two parts. This is known as a multipart MIME message — an email that consists of both a text part and an HTML part. When a recipient receives a multipart MIME message, their email reader should display the appropriate part based on the capabilities of the reader and/or user preferences (ref).

No idea, sorry.

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So there is really no downside to creating HTML emails if I have THunderbird set up to send a multipart HTML/Text email, correct?

No downside that I would be aware of.

Okay, I already do that. Thanks.

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