How to Create an ASCII Text Ezine

    June 24, 2003

What’s the difference between text ezines and all others? A true text ezine is created in text editors like Notepad, Notetab, WordPad and UltraEdit. What you create is exactly what the reader sees, fonts included. Most of the time.

Most word processors (Word, Works, WordPerfect, Lotus Word Pro, etc.) have the CAPACITY to create plain text documents, but often the automatic formatting processes get in the way. This is why many people use a plain text editor for creating ezines.

Creating the Plain Text Newsletter
The easiest route is to use text editing software that creates simple ASCII text, like Notepad, NoteTab, WordPad, and UltraEdit. These programs use a monospace (fixed width) font like Courier that looks the same in email readers regardless of platforms or operating systems.

Everything is done with the standard keyboard keys. You want bullets? Use the asterisk key. You want to tab? Use the space bar.

Line Length Guidance
Most experts recommend limiting your line lengths to no more than 65 characters. This will ensure that your lines don’t break in the middle, causing hard-to-read sentences.

Make sure each line ends with a hard return (enter key). Though your newsletter may look fine to you with word wrapping, it may become garbled for readers without those hard returns.

To know when to make a line break, simply type 65 xs across the top of your screen. Then, when you’re close (always under, not over), hit “enter.”

Why Use Plain Text?
Sure, HTML is prettier. [Ed. Note: It’s also typically more effective.] But, some email programs can’t read HTML. And, for some people, bandwith limitations and slow dial-up connections make plain text a better solution.

Suggested Resources
1. TextPad:
2. NoteTab Shareware:
3. SubscribeMe Shareware:

Writer, copyeditor, and web developer Judy Vorfeld offers website makeovers;
small business consulting; along with website, document, and book copyediting.
She publishes two ezines, offers a grammar and writing resource section on
her site, and also offers a free text-only ezine template.
Vorfeld, who started her business over ten years ago, lives in the Phoenix,
Arizona area. Her companion site is Webgrammar: