Why does my email look different in my own copy of Lotus Notes?

There are two flavors of Lotus Notes.

The first uses the Lotus Notes built-in POP or IMAP support to connect to a normal email server. This is how most email clients work.
The second uses a Domino server to retrieve email.

Lotus Notes will render your email differently depending on the follow considerations:

Version Email retrieval method Rendering engine used Supported in Litmus?
6.5 POP/IMAP NotesRichText Yes
Domino Internet Explorer No
7.0 POP/IMAP NotesRichText Yes
Domino Internet Explorer No
8.0 POP/IMAP Internet Explorer Yes
Domino Internet Explorer Yes
8.5 POP/IMAP Internet Explorer Yes
Domino Internet Explorer Yes

NotesRichText

The NotesRichText rendering engine is a heavily limited HTML rendering engine. It works by converting your email’s HTML into a proprietary rich text format and displaying supported elements in a special rich text viewer. It’s akin to Microsoft’s Word HTML rendering engine, but unfortunately supports an even smaller subset of HTML elements, attributes and CSS rules. Incredibly, it does include support for some oft-disabled in HTML email elements, including IFRAME, although it’s strongly discouraged to attempt to use these elements as their support is weak at best and is likely to trigger warnings in other email clients and spam filters. The best approach to working with the NotesRichText client is to inline your CSS into style attributes where ever possible, to ‘reset’ layout style rules, such as padding and margin and to use table-based layouts.

Internet Explorer

When Notes uses Internet Explorer to render HTML content, the end result is far superior to that produced by NotesRichText. Lotus Notes does not ship with the Internet Explorer rendering engine, instead it borrows the rendering engine of the installed version of Internet Explorer on the user’s machine. This will, in most cases, be Internet Explorer 7 or 8 (running in compatibility mode, so it will render identically to Internet Explorer 7). Even users with Internet Explorer 9 installed will find that Notes is using Internet Explorer 7’s rendering engine. Those users with Internet Explorer 6 installed will find Notes using 6’s rendering engine, which can be a problem. However, because Microsoft released Internet Explorer 7 over Windows Update, market share of version 6 has rapidly declining for sometime now.

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