July 21, 2023

Keep it intact: Tips to prevent Gmail clipping.

👋 Hello newsletter enthusiasts,

Have you ever been immersed in a newsletter, only to be interrupted by the "[Message Clipped] View entire message" notice at the bottom?

A little frustrating, isn't it? Especially if you're the one sending the newsletter.

So why does this happen and how can we prevent it? Let's dive in.

🐾 As always, thank you for reading and stay pawsome.

🔑 Key observations

  • Email size considerations: Gmail clips emails exceeding ~102KB on desktop and ~20KB on mobile, according to a 2014 article, but this can be inconsistent. We delve into this later. Your email's size is determined by various elements such as images, URLs, headers, footers, CSS styling, and the actual text content.
  • Understand your email components: To reduce email size, clean your HTML code, limit image use and simplify your language.
  • The importance of unclipped messages: Clipping can obscure the unsubscribe link or other important sections, potentially impacting user experience and deliverability. It can also affect the loading of tracking pixels, making it more difficult to gauge the success of your campaign.
  • Balancing consistency with adaptability: Maintaining a consistent, unclipped template can improve the reader's experience and aid in averting Gmail clipping. Simultaneously, it's essential to adapt to the unique characteristics of various email clients since they all handle large emails in their own ways.
  • Keep cool and strategize: Gmail clipping is a common issue. But with careful planning and some best practices, you can ensure your readers see your entire message without interruption.

Why does an email get “clipped”?

Gmail has a size limit for emails displayed in their entirety.

If your email exceeds ~102KB, Gmail will clip the message, requiring the reader to click a link to view all the content.

Such disruption in the reading experience can be avoided by keeping the email size below this threshold.

How can I determine the size of my email?

Email Service Providers (ESPs) like beehiiv, Substack and possibly others, alert you if your email exceeds the recommended size.

Substack notification that links to a Help Center article.

beehiiv notification

This feature enables you to adjust your content before you hit send.

Additionally, you can estimate your email size by sending a copy to yourself and then downloading it to check the file size.

However, emails with dynamic content (loading profile information, event data, list characteristics, mobile-only, or a desktop-only block, etc.) may still pose challenges.

For example, you might find no clipping in your test emails, only to be informed by a reader or colleague that the “live” email is clipped.


Don’t fret!

Take comfort in knowing this is a known issue, and there are solutions. Just consider a Stack Exchange post from almost a decade ago addressing the very same issue!

Stack Exchange post from 2014

What contributes to the size of an email?

The size of an email isn't just about the text. It's the sum of various components, including:

  • Images. Images tend to be loaded externally (like from your ESPs library, or from your website), and thus their size isn’t as crucial, opting for web-optimized images can help with faster loading times. Also, try not to fill your email with numerous product images and GIFs. The overall number of images does impact the total amount of code in the email. In some templates, you might discover that you can only include a specific number of images without triggering clipping.
  • URLs, hyperlinks and tracking pixels. The addition of tracking pixels or extra information to URLs can increase the email size. Keep this in mind when crafting your content.
  • Body copy. A succinct message can often pack as much punch as a lengthy one and also helps with overall email size. You might consider linking out to "read more" on your website for extended content. This strategy depends on your newsletter's goals; you might not want your readers to leave the inbox, but it's worth consideration.
  • Headers and footers. These are integral parts of your email structure, but they contribute to the overall size.
  • CSS for styling. CSS code used for email design and layout are also part of the email size.
  • Unnecessary code. Check your HTML source code for redundant styling or code. Pasting content into the email (like from a Google Doc.) can inadvertently add excess code or styling that inflates the overall size. To avoid this, paste as plain text.
  • Special characters. Symbols like copyright signs or accents over letters can add to your email size if your ESP doesn’t encode using UTF-8.

Why should you care about clipped emails?

Clipping doesn’t just disrupt the reader’s experience.

User experience and deliverability

If your unsubscribe link is in the footer and the email gets clipped, Gmail users may not easily find it.

While many can unsubscribe directly through the email client, this isn't always possible.

Consequently, frustrated readers might choose to mark your email as spam, impacting your deliverability.

Moreover, valuable engagement points like calls-to-action or special sections — like those discussed in our previous post on Link Sections — may be obscured if they're located towards the bottom of your email.

If your readers don't even know these exist, it can hamper your newsletter's success.

Consider the issue of rendering as well.

For instance, if your email contains many images, or if a reader has a slow internet connection, it could lead to less engagement due to subpar user experience, which again impacts your deliverability.

According to Litmus, readers spend an average of ~nine seconds in an email — make them count!

Tracking and engagement metrics

Clipped emails can also muddy your understanding of your audience.

If tracking pixels are placed in sections of your email that get clipped, they may not load.

While we always recommend taking Open Rates with a grain of salt, if your tracking pixel is also clipped, it adds another layer of complexity to assessing the success of your email campaign.

Balancing consistency and adaptability in email design

Though we've largely discussed Gmail in this article, remember it's just one of many email clients your readers may use.

Each client has a unique approach to handling large emails, highlighting the need to understand these distinct nuances.

Maintaining a consistent, tested newsletter template can improve reader experience and safeguard against Gmail clipping.

However, the wide array of email clients used by your readers means adaptability is equally crucial. Each client processes large emails differently, and seemingly minor details can cause issues.

For example, a simple dash in the preheader text might trigger clipping in Gmail. Replacing it with an "&ndash" could be the solution.

Consistency does more than just foster a predictable reading experience for your audience. It also streamlines your writing process and mitigates issues like Gmail clipping. Yet, adaptability to the quirks of different email clients ensures your content is accessible to all your readers.

Preventative measures to avoid clipping

While each email is unique, the following practices can help minimize the risk of email clipping:

  • Strive for emails under ~102KB, but experiment to discover your optimal email size.
  • Clean your HTML code; using an HTML minifier might help. But try to find one for email specifically, so MSO conditional comments are not removed!
  • Use web-optimized images and be aware of the total number of images you’re using.
  • Keep language concise.
  • Use inbox preview tools for testing.

Importantly, as noted in the first suggestion, you need to conduct tests to pinpoint the email size that won’t get clipped.

For instance, your ESP might indicate that your email, while under 95KB, is still being clipped. In such cases, gradually reduce your size target — 90KB, 85KB and so forth.

You might eventually discern that maintaining emails between 70-75KB, as per your ESP's measure, ensures your messages avoid the clipping zone.

With all this in mind, don't be daunted by the prospect of Gmail clipping your emails. It's a common issue, but with understanding and careful planning, you can make sure your readers see your entire message without interruption.

Let's continue to create amazing, and hopefully unclipped, content that adds value to our readers' lives.

Until next week, happy sending!

Want us to deep dive on a newsletter? Or maybe feature your newsletter in an upcoming newsletter? Email us.

🎾 Fetchworthy Finds

🐶 Pawsitive vibes

💌 Thanks for joining the pack of newsletter enthusiasts! Keep on reading, writing and sharing your newsletters with the world.

Also want to shoutout folks that have been sharing their feedback with us. Thank you!

Thank you!

🎉 Have a great weekend!

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