Why Not Just Send It As Text?

This ad-laden page at about.com talks about why you might want to send emails as plain text by default (bandwidth, misbehaving HTML support in email clients, etc.). Never mind any ugly stationery you might have to look at.

So I receive an email memo informing me that since some group of people had trouble printing an earlier email memo (one I don’t think I ever received oh, wait — they sent the original as an email with no body text and an attached JPG from a scan of the original memo? I finally found it in my Spam folder), that copies of the original memo were attached to this email in both Word and PDF formats.

This second email totaled up at 77,711 bytes. Broken down into:

  1. A 24,576 byte MS Word document
  2. A 25,230 byte PDF file
  3. A 1,980 byte HTML version of the main body text (thank you, MS Office HTML export).
  4. A 178 byte text version of the main body text.
  5. The balance of the space taken up with encoding the binary attachments, the headers, and the quoted-printable conversion of the body text.

All this to send a memo that had a grand total of 724 bytes of actual text in it. An approximately 1:107 signal to noise ratio. I know. Disk space is cheap, as is on-campus bandwidth. And the second email is still an improvement over the 121,571 bytes from the original email with the absent text and the JPG attachment. But it’s the principle of the thing.

And I bet everyone could have printed the original memo perfectly well if they had just sent it as text.

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