How To Send Plain Text Messages

Update: if the aged document below doesn't help you, one of the links on this page will: HTML and PHP Scripts - Html Plain Text Format.

As a good Sinistereen, you will be keen to not send messages which look like spaghetti - believe it or not you might be doing it without knowing. A lot of newer mail programs have "added features" which allow for instance for the sending of messages in different fonts, colours, and funny shoes. The catch is you have to be using the same program to be reading the mail in order not to see a load of old rubbish, and readers of the digest have to wade through pages of nonsense to get to the weighty and meaningful stuff I'm sure your message really contains. So messages like this sent to the list are A Bad Thing and generally get trapped by the list software and don't make it out the other end.

A lot of these "features" are turned on without you knowing. Therefore when you join the list, or change to a new mail program, please take a look below to check you don't have any of these evil features turned on. The notes below probably aren't very comprehensive so if anyone wants to add bits to them please send corrected version to me.

Oh, and there's a fabulous link to help with solving this if you get stuck, at


Microsoft Programs

Microsoft products, by default, attach binary attachments to emails. The Sinister list software is setup to reject these emails because they are non-standard and increase the size of the archives and digests.

To turn off these attachments:

WINMAIL.DAT attachments

Q: When I send mail to an Internet mailing list, its members complain that my messages contain big binary attachments. What's happening? How can I get rid of these?

For communicating with users of other clients, Exchange contains an option to suppress sending rich text information when mailing them. If you double-click on an underlined recipient (the underline means that Exchange has recognized the name, and associated an address with it) in the To: or Cc: fields on the message form, and you're using the Internet Mail provider, you'll see a check box labeled:

Send to this recipient in Microsoft rich text format

Always clear this check box if you suspect that your recipient isn't using Exchange. If this flag is clear for every recipient on a message, Exchange/Internet Mail will strip the rich text information when it sends it, eliminating the mysterious binary attachments. Note however that if the message has multiple recipients, and any one of them has the flag set, Exchange will include the rich text attachments in the message, which all recipients will receive, regardless of their particular flag setting.

Whether this flag initially appears set or not depends on the origin of that underlined name. If you got it by typing a name and letting the system pick it from your Personal Address Book, it will have whatever value you have set on the name in your PAB. Finally, here's the tricky part: if you got it by giving the reply command in Exchange, Exchange guesses as to whether this should be set or not, and when replying to Internet mailing lists, it always seems to guess wrong. You can see this by reading a mailing list message in Exchange, giving the reply command, then double-clicking on the recipient you see in the To: field of the note form, and there checking the setting of the rich text check box.

You can work around this either by replacing the reply address with an entry from your PAB that you know has rich text disabled, or else by always manually clearing the check box as needed.

More details

For more details and suggestions if you still have problems see these emails.

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