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Understanding email layout and structure
Priya NainMar 3, 2022 9:30:00 AM7 min read

Understanding Email Layout, Components, And Structure

What catches your eye first in an email?

There isn’t one right answer to it but it definitely has an incorrect one…long, bulky content.

No one likes to read wordy sentences of an email to find out the value it’ll provide unless the email looks appealing. With hundreds of interesting emails pouring in every day, people skim content to get the most out of each email. 

So your aim should be to make it easy for people to get the most value out of your email. To do that, your content should be presented in a way that's easy to read through it. And that's the job of a good email layout. In this post, we'll explore different components, types of layout, how you can find the best one of you, and more. 

Table of Contents

What is an Email Layout?

The email layout helps you decide how you’re going to place your texts, images, and videos in the email so that it looks visually appealing and engaging.

There are broadly two types of emails w.r.t. layouts: 

  1. Plain Text Emails: These are the emails that have their content in the form of text only. It doesn’t include any images or other types of multimedia. 

plain text email

2. Graphical Email: This type of format is also called rich-text email has images, text, links, tables, in it. These are created through HTML codes.

graphical email layout

The layout dictates the overall appearance of your email. It decides how your email looks to the readers and what kind of feelings it invokes.

Adding graphics in your emails gives you the flexibility to break the monotony and provide more information without boring the audience. This makes it easier for your reader to understand what you’re expressing without spending too long navigating the email.

What Is the Difference Between the Email Layout and the Email Structure?

While designing an email, you must have come across the two terms, email layout and email structure.

But what do they mean and how are these different from one another?

While layout decides the overall look of the email, the structure determines the order in which the content will be put in the email.

A common example of email structure can be 

  • Greetings
  • Introduction
  • The main body of content
  • Call to action button
  • Closing statement

To accommodate this type of structure in your email, the following aspects can be used in the email layout

  • Titles
  • Texts
  • Images
  • Rows
  • Columns
  • Button

Components Of an Email Layout

A plain-text email is easier to create which consists of just texts and links.

On the other hand, a graphical email can be designed with the help of tables, rows, and columns in which graphics can be added.

graphical email example

Types Of Email Layout

Based on the layout, the email templates can be of the following three types.

  1. Single-Column Email

This email template has a single full-width column that has all the content in it. It  follows a certain hierarchy and specific order in which the content is added to the emails.

The order is usually the sender’s name, an image, body content, and then an action button followed by the footer.

single column email layout

Pros of a single-column email layout

  • These can be easier to read as a hierarchy is followed and readers can get information where they expect it to be
  • It is optimized for the mobile users 
  • The call to action button is prominent and hard to miss by the readers

Cons of a single-column email layout

  • The readers will have to scroll all the way down to reach the CTA
  • On desktop, extra white spaces on the sides can be distracting 

2. Multiple-column layout 

This layout has multiple columns stacked with each other that can give it an appearance of a grid structure.

multiple column email layout

Pros of the multiple-column layout

  • You can share more information in lesser space
  • Multiple CTAs can be added to the email that improves conversions

Cons of the multiple-column layout

  • More efforts are needed to optimize the images and the texts for each device 
  • You might need a designer to create a cohesive & good-looking email, which might add to the cost of sending out each email 

3. Hybrid-column layout

A hybrid layout uses a combination of single-column and multiple-column structures. 

hybrid column email layout

Pros of hybrid-column layout

  • You can share more information with the hybrid-column layout
  • Multiple call-to-actions can be added to divert traffic to other resources too

Cons of hybrid-column layout

  • The complex layout can make the development time-consuming
  • The content, images and any CTAs related to one topic, should be in the same section to make it all look cohesive
  • Due to its complexity, it can be tricky to provide same visual experience on all types of devices

Which Is the Best Email Layout for Your Content?

While deciding which email layout will work the best for your campaign, you can take the following factors into account.

  1. Type of campaign
  • Newsletters- Since the newsletters have information about various topics, you can use a hybrid-column for this. You can add multiple grids and sections with respective CTAs to provide valuable information for each category of readers.

good email layout example

  • Announcements- For an announcement, you can go ahead with a single-column layout since the information will be mostly text-based. So, to avoid distraction, a single-column layout will quickly let the reader know what the announcement is about and they can use the single CTA for further information.

announcements email example

  • Press Release- Depending on the amount of information you wish to share in the press release, you can choose a layout. Ideally, a multiple-column layout will look the most appealing through which you can share the relevant information without impacting email responsiveness.
  • Promotional & Sales- For promotional campaigns, it’s better to keep the email engaging and vibrant so that the readers don’t lose their attention. A single-column or hybrid-column email with images and interesting text can make your campaign successful. A single-column can be used to prompt the reader to take action quickly while the hybrid-column can be used to offer multiple services with respective CTAs.

promotional and sales email example

  • Event Invitation- For events, using a simple single-column layout can do the trick for you. It can convey the purpose of the email with the action button without any distractions.
  • Feedback & Reviews- For feedback and review, you can either use a single-column or multiple-column layout. The first columns can express the motive and the next columns can explain the benefit of filling the form. 

feedback and reviews email

2. User device

The next main point to consider is the number of your subscribers and what type of devices they’ll be using to read your email.

On an average, around 70% of the people use their mobile phones to check their emails. This means that you need to design your emails considering their appearance on all types of devices.

Take a quick look at your data to understand whether your users prefer a desktop or a mobile device to check your emails and then select a layout that is best suited for the device.

Single-column works the best with the mobile users while the hybrid-column needs a little more effort to make sure that the responsiveness isn’t impacted.

3. CTA buttons

Next, think about how many call-to-action buttons you’ll be needing for your campaign. If you are using only one CTA, go with the single-column layout, otherwise, you can go for multiple or hybrid-column layouts. A good practice is to test the layout and CTA buttons with a usability testing tool. This will help to ensure your email is displayed properly among various devices and that all elements and CTA buttons are functional.


Choosing an email layout is not a static and defined choice. It varies with the trends and most importantly, with your subscriber’s habits.

Here's how you can choose the right email layout:  Consider your brand identity, audience preferences, and campaign goals. Opt for clean designs with clear CTAs, mobile responsiveness, and minimalistic visuals. A/B testing can help identify the most effective layout for engagement and conversions.

Pay close attention to your users’ behavior. Look at the analytics to see which type of email layout and design is getting the most attention. 

Shuffle the layouts, the design, and play around with the other elements of your email to keep your audience excited and engaged. 

Remember that the email layout creates an instant impression among your readers which decides their next action. Ensure that that layout is interesting enough to keep the readers hooked so that they can go through the wordy sentences to see the real value.

The Ultimate Guide to Email Design: For Email Marketing Success in 2022


Priya Nain

A writer, content marketer, and editor with 4+ years of experience helping SaaS companies get users, and engage them. Nice girl, rarely mean.