In brief

  • Keep image file sizes small
    You have only a few seconds to grab the recipients attention - don't waste it with large images that take too long to load.
  • Keep HTML CSS clean and simple, use tables for positioning, not layers or divs
    Many email clients have poor support of advanced HTML CSS.
  • Use a combination of images and text in plain HTML, don't use a creative design made up only of images.
    Images may be blocked by some email clients.
  • The copy in your email and the nature of your offer are more important than the design of the email
    Don't sacrifice readability for fancy-looking creative. Focus more on what you are offering and how you are saying it.


Under the Commonwealth of Australia Spam Act 2003, the advertiser must be clearly identified in any commercial electronic message.

This means that your email creative must:

  • Clearly and accurately identify your organisation (legal name, etc.) and;
  • Include accurate information about how the recipient can readily contact your organisation (postal address, telephone number, or email address).

Please include in your email design both the name of your organisation and contact information of your organisation (contact information must remain valid for at least 30 days after the campaign broadcast date).

File sizes

HTML/text Images
20 KB Recommended less than 100 KB
Maximum 200 KB

Excludes network header and footer

General design

The majority of text in your email should be plain text and HTML. Do not put the main body text of your email in an image. Images may be blocked by some email clients, therefore your recipients may never read your email!

Text within images is only suitable for headings and graphical elements that are not critical to the main campaign. Specifying alt text for these images ensures your email is still readable if images do get blocked.

Make sure text is easy to read. On a white background, text should be black, not light grey. Light grey text may look good, but will be unreadable for many users with poor eyesight or a lower quality monitor. For other background colours, consider choosing a text colour that gives the highest possible contrast.

Minimum font size for main body copy is 10 point. Only secondary content such as terms and conditions can be smaller.

We recommend the Arial font, or a similar sans-serif font. Studies have shown that a sans-serif font such as Arial is more readable on a computer screen, and Arial matches the DNS header and footer.

Remember, what good is a fancy email design that looks great, if half of the campaign recipients cannot read it?


  • The HTML and CSS should be coded by hand to ensure clean, compact code.
  • Please do not use Word's 'Save As HTML' feature, and we recommend you do not use Microsoft Frontpage or any other WYSIWYG web design software.
  • Do not use global CSS selectors, use inline styles only.
  • Characters used must be from the US-ASCII character set printable characters 0-127. For characters outside this range use a suitable replacement. For example, two dashes for one em-dash, or © for ©.
  • Always specify alt text for images that have a context or meaning important to the campaign message or desired action. For unimportant images used for decoration only set alt="".
  • Link all images and URLs.
  • Do not use CSS absolute positioning, divs or layers as these features are not supported by some email clients. While not recommended for Web pages, tables are still the best way to lay out HTML emails.
  • Do not use Java, Javascript, forms, frames, ActiveX, animated GIFs or Flash.
  • Use background images as secondary design elements as they will not display in some email clients.
  • Do not use image maps.
  • Do not use <body > tag attributes (bgcolor, background, etc.) and do not apply any markup or styles in the section. Web-based email clients will often filter out this code.

Multimedia and attachments

Do not use Java, Javascript, VBScript, forms, frames, ActiveX, animated GIFs, Flash, or embedded video.

If you do use any of these interactive or multimedia features, there is a very good chance that either the email will be blocked by spam and virus filters, or the email client will not display the content correctly.

DNS does not allow attachments of any kind on any email broadcast. If you need to supply a PDF or similar file to your recipients, the best way to supply it is with a link on the landing page.

Image formats

File names  
JPEG The JPEG (.jpg) format is best suited to photographs
GIF The GIF (.gif) format is suited to logos and images created from scratch. Animated GIFs will only be included at the discretion of DNS.

Images can be hosted by you, your design agency, or by DNS. Please be aware that Flash is not accepted within any email creative.

Creative width

A maximum width of 700 pixels applies.

Destination page

When sending us your material, please specify the URL of a destination page. This is a Web page which email recipients will click on for more information or to respond to your offer. We recommend that this destination page is not just an exact copy of the email creative. Instead it should provide more information or a path to respond or purchase.

Your destination URL can also be included as links within the body of your ad copy.


Your ad copy can be personalised with the subject's first name, eg. "Dear Tom". To achieve this, insert the tag where you would like the name to appear.

Email subject

You can specify a subject line for your email, with a maximum length of 80 characters (including spaces). Less than 50 characters is recommended.

Your subject line cannot be all UPPER CASE.

If you don't specify a subject line, we will use the headline from your copy or compose one for you.


Generally the website email footer will include unsubscribe information allowing email recipients to opt-out. Therefore there is no need to include unsubscribe information in your design or copy.