Email Best Practices


As part of the University's digital ecosystem, email design standards are based on University web standards. Any nuances specific to email are noted below. For all other design standards, please see the specifics in the Email Best Practices Guide.

Trellis Marketing Cloud

Our University enterprise solution for email marketing and communications strategy is Trellis Marketing Cloud.

It is free and available to all departments. Although you may not have yet adopted this tool or been on-boarded, we do point out some areas where Marketing Cloud provides particular benefits throughout this site. You will find that the information and guidelines included here are general enough for you to use regardless of your email provider.

Woman at computer

General Best Practices

Content Length

Avoid lengthy emails with too much body copy, graphics or detail. Consider more frequent email communications with links to your website where longer content can live.


Maintain a consistent email strategy by sending emails regularly to your audience on a consistent day and time.

Email Types

Emails can fall into one of six categories: Announcement, newsletter, invitation, press release, solicitation or retail. Marketing Cloud offers an approved, branded template for each of these email types.


All emails you send should be tested:

  • Send the email to yourself to check for content and design errors and to test your links in a live environment. 
  • Also send to a small group of colleagues who use different device types and email clients.
'View Online' Links

User preferences and accessibilities differ. Therefore, every mass email should also include a link to view the message online.

Unsubscribe Links

All mass email sends require a physical mailing address for CAN-SPAM compliance. All commercial email sends require an “Unsubscribe” link in the footer. The University has developed a custom Subscription Center that allows audiences to manage their subscriptions linked in the footer in all commercial emails sent via Marketing Cloud.

Comprehensive Email Guidelines

Download the University of Arizona email best practices guide for comprehensive assistance throughout the entire email design, development and deploying process regardless of your email service provider or audience.


Content Best Practices

  • Subject lines should be compelling yet concise, between 30 and 50 characters (including spaces) and be written in Headline Case.
  • Create a sense of urgency, while giving readers some indication of what to expect in the email.

  • Boost open rates and provide a sense of what the email message is about.
  • Preheader text refers to what is added into the email code to control the preview text. Keep this to 100 characters (with spaces) or fewer, written in sentence case.

  • The sender is whom the email is “From,” including both name and email address.
  • Emails perform better when the sender is a person the recipient is familiar with (i.e., President Robert C. Robbins vs. an office name like Office of the President).

  • Indicates to whom or to which office the email reply would go.
  • In email management systems like Trellis Marketing Cloud, the reply email address is encrypted so you’re able to use a different reply name than the inbox it goes to. Replies should be routed to a live, monitored email inbox.

  • We often use “Dear Faculty and Staff,” “Dear Wildcats,” or “Dear Students” for internal audiences and “Dear Friends” is often used when reaching external or mixed audiences.
  • Email service providers may offer personalization (i.e. “Dear {First Name}”). Make sure your data source is well managed when personalizing.

  • Make the reading experience as quick and compelling as possible.
  • Adding in white space is recommended, breaking up content blocks for readability (in particular, with e-newsletters) by using paragraphs and headings.
  • Maintain heading order (<h1> <h2> etc.) for navigation accessibility and consistency.

  • Internal communications and marketing communications should use “the University of Arizona” on first reference and “the University” or “Arizona/at Arizona” on subsequent references.
  • News and external communications should use “the University of Arizona” on first reference and “the university” or “UArizona” on subsequent references.
  • It is never written as “UA” or “U of A.”

  • Emails sent from individuals should include a signature line with:
    • Full name
    • Gender pronouns (if including)
    • Title
    • The University of Arizona
  • Emails sent from a college or business unit do not require a signature.
  • Newsletters do not require a signature.

Sent to: Please include a line just above the footer that states to whom the email has been sent for all transactional announcement emails. In Marketing Cloud, please use the “Small_Above_Footer_Note” module that is included in the template.

  • Always be succinct. If the email content seems like it might be a bit too much for your email, it probably is. Move that copy to your website and link to it.
  • All underlines and all red text should be reserved for the use of links only.
  • Emojis are best used for non-formal, internal-facing email communications, WHEN IN DOUBT, DO NOT USE. Not all email clients support all emojis - should you choose to use them, test them extensively.

Your audience should guide your voice and tone. Keep in mind the usual principles apply:

  • Follow the Brand Guidelines for Voice and Tone 
  • Use clear and concise language
  • Use familiar terminology and acronyms (while avoiding overly jargon-y language)
  • Use an active voice and compel engagement on the part of the reader

  • Highlight the word(s) or phrase(s) that indicate the link’s destination.
  • Avoid link text that creates contextual issues for accessibility or feels spammy (e.g., “click here” or “learn more,” etc.).
  • Links should be bolded, Arizona red and underlined.

The space around a single link or button should be large enough for use on mobile devices. Space multiple links in a paragraph appropriately.

Keep CTA’s clear and easy to understand. Common CTAs with a clear next step:

  • Register
  • Tell us what you think
  • Watch Video
  • Find more articles about [...]
  • Download a course catalog

The designed email templates available in Marketing Cloud offer designers the ability to use buttons so CTAs have clear call-outs.

Design Best Practices

  • The University brand font Proxima Nova is preferred. Calibri is a good alternative if necessary. If neither are available, Segoe UI, Helvetica Neue, or Arial are included in our Bootstrap fallback fonts.
  • Press Release emails must use Times New Roman.
  • Fonts should be 16 point and 1.5 line height.
  • The font color for all emails should be Ash or Midnight



CMYK 10, 4, 5, 0
RGB 226, 233, 235



CMYK 100, 60, 0, 75
RGB 0, 28, 72
HEX #001C48

Keep your font for headings consistent with your font for body copy.

  • Primary Title (H1): 24px, bold, Azurite
  • SecondaryTitle (H2): 20px, bold, Azurite
  • Tertiary Title (H3): 18px, bold, Ash

Create a plain text version of every email. If you use Trellis Marketing Cloud as your email service provider, this work has been done for you.

  • The Block A logo should not appear more than once in an email. Do not repeat that logo within the email or on graphics at the top to avoid having more than one Block A logo appear .
  • In Marketing Cloud, use your alternative logo version at the top of the Trellis template.

Use the University of Arizona brand guidelines for choosing font colors and sizes to ensure that the contrast ratio meets minimum WCAG 2.1, level AA guidelines for accessibility.

Use images and logos with white backgrounds and be sure to test your email in dark mode before sending.

  • Aim for an 80:20 to 60:40 ratio of text to images.
  • Do not send messages that contain no text and only images with words on them.
  • Use the button builder options within the email platform rather than images as buttons
  • Avoid any images that contain text, especially text that is critical to the message. Instead, place that text below or above the image so that it can be read by screen readers.
  • Avoid using too many images in an email. Doing so can cause longer download times and potentially impact performance, especially on mobile devices.

  • Best formats for images in emails are JPGs and GIFs. PNG images are supported but can be large, so be sure to reduce the size of the image for the best performance.
  • Certain other image formats are often not supported in email (e.g., SVG, webP, avif)
  • Images generally shouldn’t be larger than 600px wide but can be of any length.

Alt text is required for all images, including decorative ones

  • Avoid “Image of, photo of” descriptors - keep descriptions specific and simple.
  • DRC’s webpage on Alt Text contains valuable tips to keep your images accessible.

Background images are not supported by all email clients. Do not use them.

Animated GIFs have limited email client support and are not accessible. An animated GIF not supported by an email client will only show the first frame of the GIF.

If you plan on using an animated GIF:

  • Avoid including animated GIFs that contain text, especially text that contains important information, such as dates, contact information, titles or prices.
  • Do not use GIFs that haven't been created by or for the University.
  • Aim to keep the file size under 200kb for optimal loading time.

Videos have very limited support across email service providers and are not supported in Trellis Marketing Cloud.

Instead, a still video thumbnail that includes a play icon overlay and a link to the video will allow viewers to open and play the video in a browser.

Email design and set up must account for viewing on mobile devices

  • Most email marketing systems support creating a mobile version of an email or modifying an email to be supported on small devices.
  • Trellis Marketing Cloud templates are designed to be responsive.

The aspect ratio of a selected image must be considered when sizing down for mobile devices:

  • Choose square and portrait images that work best on mobile devices. If a landscape image must be used, the most important parts of the image must still be noticeable when the image is less than 400px wide.
  • Select images that can be sized down for best results (i.e., images at 2x resolution). Always test using a cross-browser, cross-device tool to ensure the images selected will render properly on all relevant devices.
  • Crop or scale your photo to the appropriate size - most email clients do not support anything wider than 600px. If necessary and possible, choose separate images for mobile and desktop devices.