Best Practices for Email Templates best-practices-for-email-templates

AEM 6.4 has reached the end of extended support and this documentation is no longer updated. For further details, see our technical support periods. Find the supported versions here.

This document describes some of the best practices around email design resulting in a well-developed email campaign template.

The demo campaign available in AEM follows all of these best practices. How the best practices are implemented in the demo campaign is described for each best practice.

Use these best practices when creating your own newsletter.

All campaign content should be created under a master page of type cq/personalization/components/ambitpage. For example if you are planning a campaign structure is something like:
  • /content/campaigns/teasers/en/campaign-promotion-global
You should make sure it resides under a master page:
  • /content/campaigns/teasers/master/en/campaign-promotion-global
When creating a mail template for Adobe Campaign, you must include the property acMapping with the value mapRecipient in the jcr:content node of the template, or you will not be able to select the Adobe Campaign template in Page Properties of AEM (field is disabled).

Template/page component template-page-component


Best practice

Specify document type to ensure consistent rendering.

Add DOCTYPE at the beginning (HTML or XHTML)

Is configurable by design changing the cq:doctype property in "/etc/designs/default/jcr:content/campaign_newsletterpage"

The default is "XHTML":

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "">

Can be changed to "HTML_5":


Specify character definition to ensure correct rendering of special characters.

Add CHARSET declaration (e.g. iso-8859-15, UTF-8) to <head>

Is set to UTF-8.

<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8">

Code all structure using the <table>element. For more complicated layouts, you should nest tables to build complex structures.

Email should look good even without css.

Tables are used throughout the whole template for structuring content. Currently using a maximum of four nested tables (1 base table + max. 3 nesting levels)

<div> tags are only used in author mode to ensure proper component editing.

Use element attributes (such as cellpadding, valign, and width) to set table dimensions. This forces a box-model structure.

All tables contain necessary attributes like border, cellpadding, cellspacing and width.

To harmonize element positioning inside tables, all table cells have the attribute valign="top" being set.

Account for mobile-friendliness, if possible. Use media queries to increase text sizes on small screens, provide thumb-sized hit areas for links.

Make an email responsive if the design allows for it.

As far as CSS styles are being used to illustrate demo design, media queries are being used to offer a mobile friendly version.
Inline CSS is better than putting all the CSS at the beginning.

To better demonstrate the underlying HTML structure and ease the possibility to customize the newsletter structure only some CSS definitions have been inlined.

Base styles and template variations have been extracted to a style block in the <head> of the page. On final submission of the newsletter these CSS definitions should be inlined into the HTML. An automatic inlinening mechansim is planned, but currently not available.

Keep your CSS simple. Avoid compound style declarations, shorthand code, CSS layout properties, complex selectors and pseudo-elements.
As far as CSS styles are being used to illustrate demo design, the CSS recommendations are being followed.
Emails should be 600-800 pixels maximum width. This will make them behave better within the preview-pane size provided by many clients.
The width of content table is limited to 600px in demo design.

Images images


Best Practice
Add alt attributes to images
The alt attribute has been defined as mandatory for the image component.
Use jpg instead of png format for images
Images will always be served as JPG by the image component.
Use <img> element instead of background images in a table.
No background image data is used in the templates.
Add attribute style=“display block” on pictures. Allows to display well on Gmail.
All images contain per default the style=“display block” attribute.

/libs/mcm/campaign/components/heading, /libs/mcm/campaign/components/textimage

Best Practice
Use html <font> instead of style in CSS (font-family)
The RichTextEditor (e.g. in textimage component) now supports choosing and applying font-families and font-sizes to selected texts. They will be rendered as <font> tags.
Use basic, cross-platform fonts such as Arial, Verdana, Georgia and Times New Roman.

Depends on newsletter design.

For the demo design the font "Helvetica" is used, but will fall back to generic sans-serif font, if not present.

Generic generic

Best Practice
Use W3C validator to correct the HTML code. Make sure all open tags are properly closed.
Code was validated. For XHTML transitional Doctype only the missing xmlns attribute for the <html> element is missing.
Don’t bother with JavaScript or Flash - those technologies are largely unsupported by email clients.
Neither JavaScript nor Flash is used in the newsletter template.
Add a plain text version for multipart sending.
A new widget was build into the page properties to easily extract a plaintext version from the page content. This can be used as a starting point for the final plaintext version.

Campaign newsletter templates and examples campaign-newsletter-templates-and-examples

AEM comes with several templates and components out of the box for you to create campaign newsletters. You can use these templates and components to create your custom newsletters.

Templates templates

To offer a solid base and to broaden the variety of content flow possibilities, there are three slightly different template types available out of the box. You can easily use these to build a custom newletter.

All have a header, a footer and a body section. Below the body section, each template differs in column design (1, 2 or 3 columns).


Components components

There are currently seven components available for use inside campaign templates. These components are all based on the Adobe markup language HTL.

Component name
Component path
Dynamic Media Classic (formerly Scene7) Image Template
Targeted Reference
These components are optimized for mail content; that is, they adhere to the best practices outlined in this document. Using other out-of-the-box components will usually violate these rules.

These components are described in detail in Adobe Campaign components.