Plain Text Email

If you are sending an email from your phone, you may not have access to text formatting options. WCAG 2.1 includes a few techniques for improving the accessibility of plain text content.

Formatting Paragraphs

Include one line space between paragraphs, a full stop.

Formatting Lists

  • For bulleted lists, use an asterisk * or a dash –
  • For Numbered lists use one of the following formats:
    • Number followed by a period or a closed parenthesis, e.g. 1. or 1)
    • Upper case letter followed by a period or a close parenthesis, e.g. A. or A)
    • Roman Numerals (use lowercase) followed by a period, e.g. i., ii., iii., iv., etc.

Formatting Headings

Include two line spaces above headings and one line below (except if followed by a new heading).

Example Text Email

Example of a plain text email where headings are preceded by 2 line spaces, paragraphs by one line space, and bulleted list items bay a dash.

WCAG Sources

Accessible BlackBoard Email

Email formatting options specifically for Blackboard.

  • The Message section of a BlackBoard email has formatting tool bars available to apply headings, add text links, and adjust font sizes and colors.
  • Text formatting applied in BlackBoard will translate to Outlook and GMAIL (If the user is viewing their email as HTML).

Screen shot of the BlackBoard email interface. The text Formatting Toolbar is pointed out at the top of the message editor.

Accessible Email

General Accessible Email Formatting Guidelines

These standards apply to all email applications. Not all email clients will have all these options available; just use the options that are available to you.

Note: Most people read their email on a mobile phone. These accessibility guidelines not only help people with disabilities understand your email, but also help sighted users view your email on a small screen.

Email Format

  • Emails that are in HTML or Rich Text formatting are the most accessible.
  • Plain text emails are less accessible.

Text size

  • 14 px or 12 pt is considered the most accessible body text size.
  • Headings should be slightly larger than your body text.

Text color


  • Divide your email into small readable content chunks to make your email easier to understand. Start each content chunk with a heading that summarizes the topic.
  • Format your headings with Heading Styles 1 through 6.


  • Don’t include URL’s in the body text. Instead, use text links.
  • If you need to include a full URL as a citation or research documentation, create a section in your email, sort of like a footnote, and give it a heading (e.g. Citation URL’s). Place all the citations in a bulleted list. Include the page title along with the URL.

Text formatting

  • Limit your use of Bold, italics, all-caps, etc. Too much will make your text difficult to read.
  • Don’t use full or right justification, these don’t always align properly in some email clients and may hide your content off screen on mobile devices.
  • Don’t use tables to layout an email, only use tables for tabular data.


  • Don’t use images instead of text.
  • Give each image alt text.

Software Specific