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Outlook 2013 Doesn’t Respect Height in Empty Table Cells

ROS HODGEKISS - AUG 20, 2012

If you’re already testing your email newsletters in Outlook 2013 Preview, then you may have noticed a little more whitespace than expected.

While Outlook 2013 may have much in common with its predecessors, Outlook 2010 and 2007, the differences are starting to appear. In this case, empty table cells (or cells containing a & nbsp;) now have a minimum height of roughly 15px, regardless of what you’ve set a cell’s height attribute to be.

This can be particularly irritating if you’ve used empty table cells to create margins/padding between paragraphs of text and around images (for clients that do not support these CSS properties), or when creating ‘bulletproof’ horizontal rules. However, there is a rather strange solution. For example, say you have an empty cell with height="1" like this:

<td height="1" bgcolor="#cccccc"></td>

Unfortunately, Outlook 2013 will give this cell a height of 15px or so by default, unless you add… You guessed it, style="font-size: 1px; line-height: 1px;" (where 1px is the cell height you’re after).

Yes, adding a font size to your inline CSS styles fixes this bug. Here’s the updated code:

<td height="1" bgcolor="#cccccc" style="font-size: 1px; line-height: 1px;">&nbsp;</td>

Unfortunately, you’ll need to add this inline style to all empty cells individually, as elegant CSS workarounds like td[height="1"] { font-size: 1px; line-height: 1px;} are not supported in Outlook 2013 Preview.

Use #cccccc, not #ccc (and definitely not RGB)

Another quirk we discovered during our testing is that Outlook 2013 only supports 6-character hexadecimal codes in the bgcolor="" attribute, not 3-character shorthand or rgb(). Background colors will not display if anything other than a 6-character hex code is used.

Many thanks to the lovely Wilbert Heinen for refining this fix in the forums. As Outlook 2013 catches on in the real world, we can guarantee that adding this fix to current and future email designs and templates will save you both time and effort well into the future. If you come across more quirks like this in your travels, please get in touch – we’d love to hear about them!

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