Reply to Bill Ruud of Shippensburg University for sending a .docx newsletter

Note: I can't open .docx files so I don't even know what his "Fall Letter" was about. I don't think that sending out office documents is the best idea for a newsletter, either.

Thanks for sending out what I assume is a status update and report on what has and will be going on at Shippensburg University. Unfortunately, I, and I assume a large number of other recipients, cannot open your attachment.

For newsletters and the sort, the most preferred method of distribution would be a text-only email - this ensures the widest ability to receive and open the content.

HTML-encoded email with a text-only option included would be the second best since you could add formatting to your content while ensuring that the content is readable by a wide audience - this frequently requires twice the work as it's probably best to format both the HTML and the text-only documents separately so-as to ensure the best readability.

I think the last option would be to send out a link to a web page so that everyone could be viewing the document through a web browser that would ensure support of HTML - this would unfortunately require much more work than the previous two options as any styling would have to be tested in multiple browsers.

Your choice to send the newsletter as an attachment of a Microsoft Office 2007 document drastically limits the audience that can receive the newsletter. Many (myself included) prefer to run open and free software on their computers and cannot access these documents. There are even more that do run Microsoft products but can't afford to keep up with constant software upgrades or other alternative OSes such as Mac OS-X; for those, it's very common to use the same free software to do their office work (, usually). It is much more desireable to use an ISO standard for office documents, such as the OpenDocument format (ODF;, so that everyone has the same access to software that can open the documents. Still, this isn't the preferred format for newsletter distribution.

I hope my ideas can be useful for the making of your next newsletter. I don't expect that it's your job to keep up with the best distribution methods for newsletter, so perhaps another option is to run your drafts through your marketing or IT departments for ideas on how best to get your newsletter to your intended audience.

Thanks for your time.

-Douglas E. Warner

Shippensburg University Alumni 2002

Update 2007-11-29: Bill Ruud sent out another email that was text-only; thanks! Hopefully others will benefit from my lengthy rant as well.