Email is a part of everyday communication so it’s important to make sure emails can be read on all devices and by all users. People who are blind or have low vision can understand emails easier if they are drafted with fonts, styles, and readability in mind.

Best Practices

Subject Lines

Subject lines should be meaningful and descriptive. Someone using a screen reader will hear subject lines before anything else. Emails without subject lines are likely to be ignored or deleted. Follow readability guidelines for writing your subject lines.


  • Sans serif fonts such Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, Verdana, set no smaller than 12 points.
  • Use correct formatting for lists and headings.
  • Color contrast between text and background should at least be 4.5:1
  • Meaningful links should be self-explanatory out of context.
  • Use Left-aligned paragraphs (but not full justified) for even spacing and easier reading across platforms and devices.


  • When including an image, ensure all relevant information is also available as text.
  • Avoid sending an image-only email.
  • Avoid sending images of text in an email.
  • Add alternative text to each images (Microsoft Outlook supports adding alternative text, see Outlook accessible emails).
  • Any images included in an email should satisfy the color contrast guidelines.
  • Don’t include flashing gifs in the email. (Check more about motion guidelines)


  • For data-only information, a table may be easier to follow with for screen readers
  • Follow table guidelines to make your table readable

Attachments (PDFs, Word documents)

  • All files attached to the email should be accessible. (See the PDF tutorial)
  • Use a descriptive and distinct filename.
  • Videos in an email must have captions, read more in the video audio guide.
Willamette University

Marketing and Communications

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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