Read Time: 3 min

Email marketing assumptions: My email needs all those CSS resets


Mailbox and internet service providers (ISPs) do strange things to our emails. One way to combat this? Using CSS resets for a fresh start. But email clients have come a long way. So, let’s take a closer look at this common email marketing assumption:

Does my email need CSS resets?

What is a CSS reset?

A CSS reset is a set of styling rules in the head of an email that account for known bugs or issues in various email clients like Gmail and Outlook. The resets prevent your email from looking funky and provide a clean, consistent foundation on which to code and style your emails. Like starting with a truly blank canvas.

What are common CSS resets?

There are general resets, and then there are client-specific resets. Most of them are to override Outlook issues or blue links in Apple, Gmail, and Android clients. Back in 2014, email marketing advocate and author Jason Rodriguez shared his reset code which sparked a discussion in the Litmus Community where fellow email geeks shared their resets. This was clearly a problem back then.

So are they still needed today?

While websites may not need CSS resets anymore, emails still do.

Unfortunately, there’s still no universal email development standards (we wish!). That means email clients, apps, and devices each have their own unique way of rendering your email, including adding to or altering your code. The result? An inconsistent subscriber experience and an email that can look broken. Ugh.

However, the resets you need have changed over the years as email clients have evolved. I spoke with our email developer, Carin Slater, to learn more about this.

On the one hand, Outlook has since resolved ExternalClass and ReadMsgBody padding issues that required CSS resets to fix. But on the other hand, we’re now dealing with relatively new things like Dark Mode. And every update that email clients make to their product introduces new ways for your emails to break. Like when started replacing body with div in emails. That was fun.

For emails in today’s world, Carin likes to reference Jay Oram’s email CSS resets and Rémi Parmentier’s email bugs documentation.

See if your CSS resets work

The CSS resets your emails need depend on where your audience opens emails. Do you have little to no subscribers using Outlook? Count your blessings and cross that one off your list.

While you don’t want to bloat your code with unnecessary CSS resets that could slow down load time or clip your email, if you want to throw all of them into your email just in case, the impact should be minimal.

Then, find out if your resets are doing the trick. See how your emails look across 100+ different email clients and devices with Litmus Email Previews. Try Litmus free for 7 days.

Start testing today →

Curious about other email marketing assumptions?