Add a Background Image to Individual Table Cells in Your Email


Adding background images to email? We’ve already done the hard work for you. Check out Stig‘s ‘Bulletproof Email Background Images’ code generator at

Also, a more elegant and up-to-date method for displaying background images can be found here.

You may have read earlier about our approach to applying a background image to an email. This involved not only adding a background image to the entire HTML page, but wrapping all content in a table with a background image applied to it. However, there was a limitation to this method, in that while you could apply a background image to the entire table, you couldn’t apply one to an individual table cell. Thanks to one of our star customers, Brian Thies, we’ve been shown a little code that not only will allow you to add a background image to a table cell, but works in most major email clients, too!

The skinny is that you have to replace your <html> tag with:

<html xmlns:v="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml">

… then add this to your styles in <head>, too:

v\:* { behavior: url(#default#VML); display: inline-block; }

As for the <td> you wish to add the background image to, add the following within the cell (where width and height are the dimensions of the image):

<!--[if gte vml 1]>
<v:image style='width: 600px; height: 402px; position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; border: 0; z-index: -1;' src="" />

This technique has been tested and shown to be working in most major email clients, except Lotus Notes 6/7 (typically). Most important of all, it forces a background image to display in Outlook 2003/2007/2010! If you scroll to the end of Brian’s forum thread, you can also see a detailed background color fix, too.

The problem of background images not displaying in a variety of major email clients has caused a lot of headaches for a while now. While these two approaches to the background image issue may be considered to be a bit, well, ‘hackish’, considering the state that email clients are in, we’d be hard-pressed to find a more elegant and widely-accepted solution any time soon. Hopefully we can now put a lot of past rendering nightmares behind us and now use background images to our heart’s delight.

Many thanks to Brian for sharing this with us.

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