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The Updated Preview Text Hack You May Want to Use in Every Email

email preview text hack

Your email’s preview text in the inbox shows at least as many characters as your subject line—and in some cases, much more. That’s valuable real estate you can use to convince subscribers that opening your emails is worthwhile.

It can be difficult to optimize, however, because email clients always pull in enough characters to fill all available preview text space (up to 5 lines!). That means you’re left with two choices:

  1. Go long and have it cut off, which can create embarrassing truncations.
  2. Go short and have URLs and other “non-optimized” content from your emails pulled in to fill the space.

However, there is a little-known third choice…

The preview text hack

Did you know you can create white space after your desired preview text so that email clients don’t pull other distracting text or characters into the envelope content?

All you need to do is add a chain of zero-width non-joiners (‌͏ and ‌) and non-breaking spaces ( ) after the preview text you want displayed. The repetition of ͏‌  then fills any remaining preview text space.

You can see where to insert the code in this example:

Insert hidden preheader text here.

 ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
<div style="display: none; max-height: 0px; overflow: hidden;">
Insert hidden preheader text here.
</div>

<!-- Insert &#847;&zwnj;&nbsp; hack after hidden preview text -->
<div style="display: none; max-height: 0px; overflow: hidden;">
&#847;&zwnj;&nbsp;&#847;&zwnj;&nbsp;&#847;&zwnj;&nbsp;&#847;&zwnj;&nbsp;&#847;&zwnj;&nbsp;&#847;&zwnj;&nbsp;&#847;&zwnj;&nbsp;&#847;&zwnj;&nbsp;&#847;&zwnj;&nbsp;&#847;&zwnj;&nbsp;&#847;&zwnj;&nbsp;&#847;&zwnj;&nbsp;&#847;&zwnj;&nbsp;
</div>

That’s it! It really is that easy.

The preview text hack used to only consist of a string of &zwnj;&nbsp;, but the email community (and our recent testing) discovered that this does not work with Yahoo! Mail. Our email marketing specialist, Carin Slater, now recommends &#847;&zwnj;&nbsp; so “then you’re covering all your bases” as far as email clients go.

This should now be supported in all email clients, apps, and devices.

But as email clients make updates pretty often that can break your emails, be sure to always test your preview text (and the rest of your emails)!

Growing in popularity

Thanks to Litmus Community member Ryan Field who mentioned this technique in 2016 and called it a “super old” preview text hack. While that may be true, hardly anyone was using it.

Today, nearly 35% of respondents from our LinkedIn poll still don’t know about it.

Preview Text Hack

…but hopefully, we’ll continue to see the use of the preview text hack climb.

How brands are using this hack

Looking for inspiration on how to use this trick?

We’ve been using this hack in our Litmus emails from the monthly newsletter and Litmus Weekly to product announcements and event invites. Here’s how some of them look like in Gmail:

litmus-subject-lines-preview-texts-gmail

Check out some more examples of other brands successfully using this hack to optimize their preview text:

preview-text-hack-mobile-email-examples

Does it impact email deliverability?

While there are concerns from the community and email marketers regarding deliverability and usage of this hack, we haven’t experienced any issues. We’ve been using the preview text hack across different campaigns for many years now without ever seeing a negative impact on deliverability. If anything, it might help deliverability since this can create a positive subscriber experience, which leads to engagement (and the inbox providers love that!).

But, as with most things in email, if you do want to use this hack but are concerned about how it could impact your deliverability, we suggest doing some email A/B testing to see if your subscribers respond positively and ensure your deliverability rates remain stable.

Take control of your preview text

The popularity of this hack is increasing, but there are still many brands who have yet to use it. So give it a try and see how you like it. You’d never leave your subject line to chance, so take control of your preview text as well.

Tell us what you think: Do you use the preview text hack? Will you?

Insert hidden preheader text here.

 ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
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Originally published on July 11, 2018, by Chad S. White. Last updated August 24, 2021.