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Email newsletters in Lotus Notes and table width

Lotus NotesLotus Notes, or Locust Notes as some of my colleagues like to call it is probably the hardest email client in wide use to code for. Depending on which version you are trying to support, you may be in for a real nightmare. I recently marked up a very basic email newsletter that had to work in Lotus Notes 6.5 and I still had a lot of trouble getting it to work. The same rules apply to Lotus as that of Outlook 2007, build your emails with a slew of tables and spacer gifs and use as little CSS as possible, this is especially true for older versions of Lotus notes. I wanted to share one particularly nasty bug that I squashed, and that is how Lotus deals with table widths.

Lotus Notes sometimes extends table width to 100%

I had an email campaign where the email took up 100% of the client window even though I had a width specified in the main table containing all other tables. The fix was quite easy to implement, but still very annoying. It turns out that lower versions of Lotus Notes need a width on every table. Often I will use a single main table to contain my other tables and then just use spacer gifs to set the widths of the tables within. Any table without a width specified is assumed to be 100% regardless of the parent, so the fix is to put a width into every single table you use. It’s also better to use the HTML width attribute and not inline CSS. Once again non-standard engines take us back to the dark ages. I hope this saves some hair pulling for someone.

3 Comments to “Email newsletters in Lotus Notes and table width”

  • David Leedy

    Without a doubt Notes 6.5 is horrible for HTML emails. Verison 6.5 is also over 7 years old.
    The recent versions of Notes, 8+ can use the OS browser so this isn’t much of a problem any more for those that have upgraded.

    • Ian Hoar

      Hi David, very true, but many corporate settings are still using older email clients and browsers, so we must figure out ways to make things work. That said, width should work properly even in a 7 year old browser or email client. Lotus Notes 8 hasn’t been a problem for the most part.

  • Luiz Felipe

    Thanks! You save my life rs.
    I had some problems to developed a e-mail signature for my job.