comments @ Email Marketing, Email Newsletters, Internet Marketing Strategies

4 Tips on How to Add Background Images in Email Template

Last Update:


Hey guys,

Hope you’re doing great! We have updated this article written by Paul Shuteyev and decided to pay more attention to email background images issues. You’ll learn basic tips on how to implement background images in newsletter. Let’s start!

Everybody use email background image in messages. Background images are great attention-catchers and it’s extremely important to use them the right way.

What are background images?

Background images are images that are applied to the background of an element in an email. Instead of being a main focal point of the email, like a hero image, they are more often subtle and complementary to the other content in the campaign.

Adding background image in HTML email requires making changes in HTML code of your email messages. If you know nothing about custom coding – the right way is to use free ready-made templates that are already loaded into your email software. Choose the one you like, add content and send a campaign.

Whether you are an advanced user familiar with HTML and CSS and have some skills in working with these codes, our article will help you to create colorful background for the email template.

Why to Use Background Image in Email

The main email HTML background image benefit is that you get additional layering possibilities and you can place the key message as well as other pictures or call-to-action on top of email background images.

In a sense of beauty, it’s always good to get a nicely designed newsletter. Besides, you are allowed to use animated GIFs as a newsletter background images.

Emailing background image

Animated Email Background

Keep it simple: basic design

Remember that background images should be simple and without loud pattern that can steal the show. It’s just the addition to your content to make newsletter great-looking. The best newsletter background images are of quiet style and can include graphic elements (textures, gradients, patterns, etc.).

If you are not a pro in design, we recommend you not to take risks and refrain from artsy backgrounds. Minimalism is trending now, and you can successfully apply this in your newsletter. A great option is to create a gradient background for the email. Play with the color and choose a gradient background with a smooth transition according to the content of the email. It can be done using CSS. Thus, you get an email background that will be a great alternative to the background from the PNG, JPG, or GIF picture.

Email template background image

Gradient email background

Best Sizes and Formats for Newsletters Images

Image format for email

When you choose or create an image to use for email campaign, make sure, you save them in the correct format – PNG, JPG, or GIF. Each image format has own specificity, for example images saved as PNG retain transparency.

Size matters!

It’s good to stay in touch with your ESP and this is the time to ask your ESP about the limits of image size and weight. See, some ESPs compress images that are too big or weight too much – all this affects the quality of the image and the total impression of your message. If your image is too large then email can be blocked by a firewall or email filter and your email campaign won’t reach the recipients.

Read also:  How to Build Trust With Email Marketing

As an ideal email template size sways between 600-650px, it’s better to use background images of exactly the same size. This concerns images saved as PNG and JPG file.

To use GIF image as a background image and cover the entire content area, keep its size as 1280px wide. Want to highlight that GIF files are supported by almost all email clients except Outlook 2007-2013 – their user will see only the first frame in animated GIF file. That’s why put the most important frame first. Generally, the number of frames in animated GIF should not exceed 10 units.

Make your email mobile-friendly

Remember, that more than half email messages people open using mobile devices. You should consider this when creating your email design. Prepare the newsletter mobile-friendly version with smaller images size to avoid issues with long time email loading, etc. How to make the email displayed on the smartphone correctly? Use the CSS to adjust the background picture for each specific smartphone screen. Recipients will be grateful for the quality design, saving time and traffic!

How to have background image in email? Let’s find out how to work with background images in our email sending software – Atomic Mail Sender.

How to Add Background Images – Atomic Mail Sender Rocks

There are four main methods of adding background images:

  • Using table attributes
  • Using inline CSS
  • Using embedded CSS
  • Using bulletproof backgrounds

Let’s imagine, you already have an HTML email template and just want to add a background image to it. As newsletters vary according to business branches and coding varies too, we’ll take one from Atomic Mail Sender ready-made templates to show you the main principles of background implementation.

1. Let’s add background images to email using table attributes

If you have a look at the email template designed by tables, you’ll see the first main table that includes other smaller table-blocks. This is what we need – this first opening table and the attribute background.

Mentioned attribute can be applied to the whole table (tag <table>) or to the table cell (tag <td>).

The background attribute contains a URL where your background image is hosted.

For example:
<td width="100%" align="center" bgcolor="#fcd539" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" background="http://path-to-image/title.png"></td>

For clients that don’t support background images you do need to mention the background color (bgcolor) as well as ALT-text. Be scrupulous about choosing the color for the background. All the content elements and the message text should be clearly readable in the background. Some readers do not turn images on, that’s why it’s good to use ALT-texts. Don’t use just ordinary alt-texts you may use for SEO needs. Imagine this is the only alternative to image and use your ALT-texts as call-to-action. Make them sound good and catchy! You will profit from this. Either a reader turn images on to see the image or just follow the link to see the offer.

Read also:  Canadian Anti-Spam Act 2011 - Spam Can Cost You Millions of Dollars



Email without background



Email with pattern background

Without background image but with a background color:


Email with plain background

If you do not own a website, we recommend you to save the images you use for background on free services or public servers. Always type the absolute path to your background image file.

2. Inline CSS Code for Background Image

The operating principle is the same as mentioned above, change the code of the first opening table or table cell. The difference is that you work with the style attribute.

The HTML code example:
<td width="100%" align="center" style="background-image: url(http://path-to-image/title.png); background-repeat: no-repeat; background-size: cover; background-color:#fcd539;" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"></td>

    • background-repeat: no-repeat; – this property prevents image from repeating like:background_image_4
      No repeated background (size matters, as we mentioned above)background_image_5

Non-repeating background pictures

  • background-size: cover; – this important property allows to cover all the available newsletter space with your image. Especially useful for mobile email campaigns when you are limited with newsletter space and the image required to be resized.background_image_6

It’s good to have a link that leads to a WEB-version of your email message. Sometimes it’s impossible to see images, this may happen because of an error or because of bad email client. It’s a good practice to have a link to a WEB-version of the email. Just make it sound like “Problem viewing images? Click here for a WEB-version”

3. Background images for email using embedded CSS

First of all, you need to add a css <style> tag in the head of your email message. Make sure there are no other background properties within the existing HTML code, otherwise they can override the background image.

The CSS code example is the following:

.bgImage {
background-image: url('');
background-repeat: no-repeat;
background-size: cover;


Then we are goes directly to embedded CSS in email template. Use the class to set up the correspondence with the css style you’ve written in the email head.

<td class="bgImage"></td>

4. Bulletproof background images in email

Bulletproof principle for background images combines the HTML attribute usage with Microsoft’s Vector Markup Language (VML). This approach helps to create email template with background that will be displayed in every email client.

Today there is a free server to generate the bulletproof background code automatically. Go to and try it.

Just specify the URL of the desired background image, specify the backup color and choose whether this rule should be applied to the entire body of the newsletter or only for one cell in the table. As a result, you get the HTML code ready to insert into your template.

Read also:  How to write apology email to back clients

How Background Images Are Displayed in Email Clients

There is a problem: background pictures may not be supported by some email clients. For example, older versions of Android or some Gmail clients will not fully display your design, no matter how hard you try. Be sure to keep this in mind when creating your newsletter. And to make it easier to understand the issue, use this table.



A Little More Tips

  • Recommended email width – 600px (max. 650px). It is the guarantee that your email message will be displayed correctly on every device and in every email client.
  • Recommended email height depends on the content length but should not exceed 200 pixels at best.
  • Recommended font size – 14px, with the line space 1,5.
  • The text color should contrast with the background color.

To tell you the truth, there are no precise rules that will determine the size of email elements so you can experiment with shapes and sizes, but do not make the template too unusual and strange for users.

How to Have Background Image in Email Using Atomic Mail Sender?

Well, you learned about the backgrounds for the newsletter and how to set them up. But in what tool is it possible to test this knowledge and get a visual result? Use the Atomic Mail Sender for these purposes. This tool has a built-in HTML editor. Thus, write your code, evaluate the result visually and send the newsletter from the same program immediately. Let’s take a look.

Email html background image

Newsletter with a gradient background in Atomic Mail Sender

Background image in html email

HTML editor in Atomic Mail Sender

Conjure over the code and send emails with any background in Atomic Mail Sender program.

Background image is a good way to decorate email template. But do not replace email content with the image only. Do not create entirely image-based emails. This is still an actual email marketing mistake. Sometime you open an email and all you see are squares with red crosses. Sure I don’t allow images from all the senders, and this means I will definitely miss this email, even if this wasn’t a scam or spam. Make sure your email looks informative and useful without images.

Use Atomic Mail Sender free email templates for inspiration and creating own branded emails with bling-tastic background images. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.

Want to create colorful mailings and send them using the same tool? Download a test version of Atomic Mail Sender and delight recipients with aesthetic newsletters!

5 (100%) 1 vote
Written by: Daria Ivanishina