I try not to complain too much at the "non-standard" ways people use Outlook but it bugs me when people try to make email act like snail mail, with a perfect layout in every email client or use letterheads in email.
It's email – it's supposed to be quick and easy. It's not supposed to look picture perfect. It's not supposed to look like your official company letterhead - its supposed to look like… email. Quick. Simple. Easy to read. No fancy fonts or wild colors.
But we still get a lot of questions similar to this one:
I created a letterhead and signature. I want to use the auto spell check but it will not correct misspelled words. It gives me the message that it skipped text marked for 'do not spell check'. How do I fix it so it will check the spelling?
This behavior is caused by typing in the signature field – which is what happens when you try to use signatures to insert boilerplate text or headers. The signature style is marked to skip spell checking and you are typing in the signature block when you use signatures to insert anything except signatures.
Yes, the behavior is different from older versions of Outlook – especially older versions that use the Outlook editor. The older versions don't have the ability to change the signature when you select a different email account either… and that is behind why the signature cannot be used to insert headers or boilerplate text when you use Word as the editor (or Outlook 2007/2010, which have only one editor.)
In order to tie signatures to accounts and switch out signatures when you switch accounts, Outlook uses a Style. This signature style is marked to skip spelling because many names (people, companies, streets etc.) are not in the dictionary and they'd trigger spell check. While you can add names to the custom dictionary, it's annoying and should be unnecessary in signatures.
There is one solution to the problem: Create HTML Stationery to use for a letterhead.
This only works for new messages since you can't use your stationery on replies and forwards, but it's perfect otherwise. New messages will use the letterhead and your signature and replies will use only your signature. A long thread won't be filled with your letterhead text, over and over.
There are two workarounds for replies and forwards: use Quick Parts for a header to insert into replies when needed or select the entire message and change the text to allow spell checking. (Review command, Language, Set Proofing Language).
Or choose a third option: don't use letterheads on replies. Certainly not on replies where you included a letterhead earlier. It's branding gone wild. If you want to always use letterheads, send snail mail (and help save our post office!) or send PDF's of your letters on letterheads (and irritate your customers!)
Remember: It's email – it's supposed to be quick and easy. It's not supposed to look picture perfect.
If you want branding, use the signature – as a signature (but don't go overboard – huge signatures can leave a negative impression on those you correspond with.)
If you want your email and paper letterheads to be identical, change the paper so it looks like email, with the 'letterhead' in the footer.
One benefit of our new site design is the comment box and I look forward to your thoughts on letterheads in email.