How to stop Outlook hiding line breaks

One of my most hated things from recent versions of Outlook is the way it edits plain text messages by chopping out supposedly extra line breaks. Inevitably, they’re not extra — they’re there because the sender doesn’t like hitting enter twice between paragraphs — particularly when writing short lists of things.

Outlook does give you the option of restoring the linebreaks it’s taken away by clicking an option near the top of the message. It’s a right pain to have to keep doing it on every message though.

Outlook hides linebreaks

In Outlook XP, I never found a way to turn this off. Maybe it was there, but very well hidden.

Fortunately in Outlook 2003 it’s possible to turn it off for good, though the online help is no help at all at finding it.

Here’s how you do it: Tools / Options / Preferences tab / E-Mail section / click E-mail options. Then find and turn off the checkbox “Remove extra line breaks in plain text messages”.

(Note that after turning it permanently off, it still happens if you’ve been mucking about in a message beforehand, shown the “extra” linebreaks, then hidden them again and saved the message.)

13 thoughts on “How to stop Outlook hiding line breaks

  1. Stephen

    Is there anyway to send a header with the email that will disable the outlook feature for that message?


  2. Pedram

    I hear you can have this “disabled” by the email you send, simply by inserting two extra spaces at the beginning of every line, which an editor like ultra-edit can do for you through the margin settings in the paragraph formatting options or something like that.

  3. Arjna

    Removing the line break issue in Oultlook issue is solve by this thread,,, well done much

  4. Chris

    Sorry for resurrecting an old blog post, but this was so irritating. I send all my work correspondence as plain text. I like to have my basic contact information in the bottom of the message, but friggin Outlook always had to monkey with the format. I tried what Pedram said, and voila, it stopped removing the returns.

    It’s funny how frequently Microsoft does something to “help” and winds up making it much worse. Sheesh.

  5. daniel Post author

    I should note that the option to switch it off in Outlook 2007 is the same as Outlook 2003, described above.

  6. Brian

    Unchecking the box “Remove extra line breaks in plain text messages” does not work in Outlook 2003 with Windows 7. I’ve tried with new messages after restarting Outlook, and it sill does not recognize extra returns…

    Any other suggestions?



  7. Matt

    For Outlook 2010: “File” ? “Options” ? “Mail” ? Scroll waaay down to “Message Format” where you’ll find “Remove extra line breaks in plain text messages”.

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