How to Fix Line Spacing in Microsoft Outlook

The Problem

Even though your mails look normal when you write them in Outlook, when recipients view them in GMail, Hotmail, etc., there are excessive blank lines all over the place.

The reason that this happens is that, when editing HTML messages, Outlook interprets the Enter key as starting a new paragraph, rather than starting a new line.

It is not possible to fix this problem by toggling any setting within Outlook itself.

The Solution

One way to ensure that your HTML emails appear normal to recipients is to type Shift+Enter rather than Enter within Outlook. However, it is very tedious and error prone to do this by yourself.

Our solution automatically remaps the Enter key to Shift+Enter whenever you are composing HTML emails in Outlook. To use it, follow these steps:

  1. Install AutoHotKey, a free program for remapping keystrokes.
  2. Download this script for AutoHotKey and save it to your Desktop.
  3. Run the script by double-clicking on it. If you want it to run automatically when Windows starts, then copy the script into your Startup folder.

After running the script once, you can use Outlook as usual. Everything will look the same to you, but the spacing will be corrected in your recipient's view.

FAQ

Q:  Does the script map Enter to Shift+Enter in applications other than Outlook?
A:  No. The change only applies within the Outlook window, when you are authoring an email.

Q:  How often do I have to run the script?
A:  Run the script once after booting your computer. It runs in the background and applies to all Outlook sessions until you turn off your machine.

Q:  What if I do want an actual paragraph break when the script is running?
A:  Press Ctrl+Shift+8 to reveal codes in Outlook, then copy-and-paste yourself a paragraph break. Some users also report that Win+Enter gives a paragraph break on certain flavors of Windows (the "Win" key is the one that brings up the start menu).

Change Log

8/12/09: Updated script to be compatible with Outlook 2003 (thanks Mahesh!)

Contact

Questions, comments, complaints? Email outlook.fixer@gmail.com.