Make Your E-mails Stand Out

So you’ve probably had enough of “Clear Day,” “Sunflower” and “Citrus Punch” layouts for your e-mails, am I right? Either that or you’re bored with plain text e-mails? So, if you’re tired of the same old thing, why not create your own personalized e-mail template so you can impress yourself and your friends?

You could have a picture of yourself with your name and address, have a company logo or maybe a picture of your house with the address. The only limit is your imagination! In this article, I’m going to show you how you can design a new personalized template to be used in either Outlook or Outlook Express easily. Of course, all of this is free, so why not give it a shot?!

There are two things you need before you start:

1. A copy of Outlook Express (as this comes free with Windows, that should be no problem). Even though you can use the template in Outlook, the design feature is only found in Outlook Express.

2. A file with the graphic image you want to use (while it’s not within the scope of this article to show you how do this, a quick little paragraph here will give you the basics).

How to Design a Logo (Quick Overview):

Below is a logo I designed for my personal e-mail. All I did was draw a green rectangle in a paint program, drop in the picture (touched up if necessary) and then entered in the text.

The second one shown here is a company logo. I took the basic picture from one of Microsoft’s free download sites and just added the colored text. Easy as pie!

Okay, now back to the template design. You can do all of this in 10 easy steps!

1. Open Outlook Express (there should be a little OE icon on your desktop or you can get there by going to Start, All Programs, Outlook Express).

2. When it is open, click on Tools and then Options.

3. You will then see a screen with a number of tabs at the top. Select the one headed Compose and then halfway down, click on the Create New button.

4. A new screen will appear, introducing the Stationery Wizard. Just click on the Next button.

5. This is the screen where the majority of the work will be done!

If you’re going to be inserting a logo or a picture (as we discussed above), you must click on the button labeled Picture and then put in the location of that picture. (If you’re not sure where it is, click on the Browse button, which will open up a copy of My Computer, so you can locate it).

6. On the same screen, you will see a few more buttons.

Position: This is where you want the logo to be positioned (I have chosen the top left in this example).

Tile: This basically means, do you want the logo to be repeated down the length or across the top or bottom (dependant on what you chose above) of the e-mail? As often as I write long e-mails, I chose Vertically, but you could also choose Horizontally or Whole Page. Whole Page will result in the whole e-mail being filled with your logo. This is quite effective with a discreet logo. The screen on this page shows you an example of what your choice will look like.

7. Now, you are going to choose the color of the background for your e-mail. While on this same screen, click on Color and a new drop down menu will appear, with a number of options available:

Select the color that best suits the layout you have in mind (please use discretion here, I’ve seen some awful combinations!)

8. Now, click Next to reveal a screen that enables you to choose the standard text style you want to use (you can always override that for individual e-mails, but this will be the default choice).

Where it says Font, choose the one that fits best for you. (Again, you may not want anything real fancy. Keep your readers in mind!)

Next, you’ll choose the size of the font. Usually 10 point is sufficient, but 12 point will probably be okay as well. It just depends on what you want.

Now, you can choose the color of the font. You’re selecting the color of the type face. With a very dark background, for instance, you might find white shows up better. Take some time to get this right.

9. Not far to go now! We now need to tell Outlook Express where to start the text, so as not to overlap the logo, etc. Click Next to see the new screen. There’s no need to understand what the figures by the left margin and top margins mean. Just increase them (by means of the little up arrows) and you will see on the mini-screen at the right a depiction of where you’re moving the text). Keep doing this until it is positioned where you want it. Click Next again to continue.

10. Are you ready for the final step? To save all of your hard work, give it a name you can remember. Then hit the Finish button. Mission accomplished!

Now you’re probably wondering how you can actually use this tremendous work of art, right? The answer is simple. The next time you use Outlook (or Outlook Express), go to the Message button and then New Message Using. Then you can select Stationery and for the first time, you can use your new stationery creation. Then you will be offered the second screen (below) where you will be able to pick out your new stationery. (With Outlook, as opposed to Outlook Express, you will need to go to Actions, New Mail Usingand select it from the list).

What you should see then, is a screen like this:

You will see a new e-mail that’s ready to impress your friends or customers!

Ten easy steps is all there is to it!

~ David Woodford