• Thank you for the complete confirmation. I’ve pushed for nested tables on everything, and this again is proof that it’s simply the best & most compatible way to design emails.

  • Thanks again for the ongoing testing and support!

  • Thanks – very helpful post. I’ve been using this approach for a while now and haven’t had any issues with major layout pieces of designs – it’s always just a case of inline styles (like fonts and link colors) not being rendered correctly – usually in GMail.

  • Manny

    Thanks for scrutinizing the nested table theory. Safe to say nested tables are “in”.
    Are there any sort of stats where you can see the percentage of users who use Lotus Notes?

    Thanks for you good work.

  • @Kevin and @Adam, our test email was quite simple, we didn’t test any overly complex nesting scenarios. It’s definitely an idea for a follow up test that we can consider some time in the future. If you have any specific examples of problems you have seen, please share them here.

  • Jeff

    Interesting research.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that GMail, when grouping multiple emails into a conversation, starts to break tables. I’m not sure if this is a nesting thing or just tables in general.

    I haven’t found anything to change the ways the tables work to fix this, but I believe that changing your subject line will prevent GMail from grouping emails into a conversation.

  • Considering I completely ignore Lotus Notes, for me this post could have been summed up by saying “nested tables: good across the board”.

    Seriously though, I really appreciate the amount of effort you guys go to with your testing. Means I can all together avoid feeling dirty – except for those special, private times while watching ‘Lost’.

    Mmmmmm… Sawyer… Kate! I mean Kate!

  • Damien SANCHEZ

    Hello !
    It’s very interesting but when you say that Lotus Notes doesn’t render nested tables properly, which kind of problems have you seen ?

    Thanks for your answer.

  • That’s good. Lotus Notes, what’s that?

    In an unrelated issue, one that you might bring up on the blog or elsewhere, is that Gmail apparently cannot handle shorthand CSS for the font property. For example:

    font:normal 16px/1.4 Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif:

    This made Gmail choke in a recent email of mine, and the text defaulted to the ancestors’ declaration as far as I remember.

    Also, there are two different versions of Gmail that act differently. You have the regular Gmail, and then you have the dumbed down version that you access through iGoogle. Support for CSS is not as good in the latter.

  • @Damien, great question. I’ve updated the post with a link to the Lotus Notes 7 screenshot so you can see it in action. You can check that out here.

    @George thanks for sharing that problem with Gmail and shorthand CSS we’ll definitely look into it. The different versions of Google is definitely a problem, especially when you consider the fact they each version also renders differently depending on the browser you’re using. They don’t make it easy for us that’s for sure.

    @ Wayde Awesome and scary. Thanks.

  • I never nested more than 3 table inside each other in a design so far. I try to avoid nesting too many levels as Lotus notes doesn’t handle them really well. I don’t mean only the nesting but table dimension as well. if you don’t specify every dimension properly in every cell most often in breaks the layout (especially 6.5). Sometimes if you specify the dimension it breaks the layout as well.

    Testing is as always in order as the problem of nested tables doesn’t depend only on the number of tables.

  • Kevin

    Nesting tables is a way of life when building emails. Did you try nesting tables that contained images? Last year we ran into an issue with Hotmail where it seemed a certain level of nested tables (or divs) caused the image to “pop” out of the container element. In the end we solved the problem by applying style=”display:block” to each image tag. We put it on the image tag to retain control when aligning with active text.

  • I find this quite ironic since Lotus Note’s lack of support for colspan is why one would nest tables in the first place. Don’t think I’ve ever gone beyond five levels though! I only wish I could ignore this email client,.

  • Adam

    Unlickily, but luckily for the sake of testing email rendering, I work for a company that uses Lotus Notes, so we’re pretty much testing with the worst case scenario everyday. Were there any findings for how complicated the nested tables could be, ie, 3 nested tables, the second of which might have 2 columns, and the third of which might have 3 rows and two columns?

Want to improve your email marketing? Subscribe to get tips on improving your email marketing delivered to your inbox.

Join 150,000 companies around the world that use Campaign Monitor to run email marketing campaigns that deliver results for their business.

Get started for free
1-888-533-8098 0800 161 5300