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I have a web app that sends out emails to users. When sending an email in Arabic, I found it necessary to wrap the content with <div style="direction: rtl;"> to get the content to read right-to-left in Outlook (also the Outlook web app and Outlook mobile app). Using <div dir="rtl"> worked with other email programs, including Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Thunderbird.

From what I understand, using dir="rtl" is preferred. Why doesn't Outlook support it? Is there any issue if I just use direction: rtl?

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Why doesn't Outlook support it?

Outlook only supports a subset of HTML and CSS.


If you’ve been designing and coding emails for a few years now, you’re likely aware of Outlook’s dismal support for email standards. Microsoft switched to Word (from Internet Explorer) as its rendering engine with the introduction of Outlook 2007 and hasn’t looked back (errr, forward?) since. Despite the email community’s efforts and a well-intentioned response from Microsoft, this means that HTML and CSS support in Outlook has remain virtually unchanged between versions 2007, 2010 and now 2013.

Source Outlook 2013 Still Powered by Word; Now Available for Email Testing

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The correct method is the one that works. Even if the standard declares that it should be a different way, people don't care about standards, they care about whether or not they can interact with the content in the way they expect to.

Per-browser settings are VERY common in web design, even among modern standards-compliant browsers.

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