NYU Email

Writing Accessible Emails

When composing email, keep in mind these best practices:

Make sure information is clear and easy to understand.

  • Keep your subject lines and your posts simple.
  • Use plain language.
  • Write for your audience.
  • Organize the information.
  • Choose your words carefully. Use simple words and phrases.
  • Be concise.
  • Keep it conversational.
  • Design for reading.
  • Keep the acronyms to a minimum. If you must use an acronym, spell it out the first time it is used. Don't assume that your reader knows what your acronym means. For example:
    New York University Information Technology (NYU IT)

Ensure that text is easy to read and understand.

  • Use Arial font, size 12 (minimum size).
  • If you're creating HTML-formatted emails, use available heading styles and paragraph text styles on your email platform to provide semantic structure.
  • Be thoughtful about the color contrast of your text.
  • Don't use color to imply meaning or importance.
  • Don't underline words, use italics or write in CAPITALS.
  • Don't use complicated words or figures of speech.
  • Use "Paste from Word" when copying text from a document.

Ensure that images are available to all users.

  • Add alternative text for non-decorative images.
  • Avoid using images of text.
  • Avoid sending emails that are entirely one image or include complex images. If necessary, link to a web page where you can provide more information about the topic.

Create a layout that is easy to follow.

  • Avoid large blocks of text:
    Large paragraphs of text can be hard to follow. Use left-aligned text with a short line width and don’t justify text, because it can be more difficult to read extra space between words.
  • Avoid using "Returns" to add space:
    Repeated use of the 'return' key to create white space is not recommended. If somebody was using a screen reader, the returns would be read to them as 'click' 'click' 'click'; or 'space' 'space' 'space'; or 'blank' 'blank' 'blank', depending on their settings. If you need to create space in the document, use headers to set your paragraphs apart.

Use care when linking to other pages or resources.

  • If your email links to a page that you manage which features videos, photos, or audio, include as much descriptive text as possible in your content so users have an idea of what to expect upon arrival. Also make sure that the page to which you are sending users includes content that has descriptive text, captions, or any other description that can help a user understand the page content.
  • If you do not manage the content on the page to which you are linking and the content is not accessible, inform the user first by including a short note of what to expect. For example:
    • A video does not have captions or descriptive text
    • The video will start automatically
    • There is an audio file, but not a written version