Adding Custom Fonts to Mailchimps Drag and Drop Email Designer

MailChimp includes a neat drag and drop email designer, but it lacks the ability to customize your templates outside of just the basics. One such problem is the font choice. By default, it only includes a list of nine web safe fonts.

These fonts are your safest bet if you want to support as many email clients as possible, but I like to make my emails unique. In my opinion, a custom font gives the design a little extra pop and professionalism. In this tutorial, I want to outline a simple way of adding these to MailChimp’s included templates and still keep the nice drag/drop workflow.

Creating a new template

To get started create a new template in your MailChimp account. I’m going to choose Basic -> One Column as a starter. Here is a screen shot showing my choice:

mailchimp-1col

After you select this template you should have a design that looks something like this:

Mailchimp Template

It’s not a bad design, but it feels very generic. Let’s work on improving this by adding custom fonts and a few style improvements.

Selecting a font

As I mentioned in the beginning, Mailchimp only allows a few web safe fonts but a lot of email clients do support custom fonts. In order for custom fonts to work, they must be inserted from the CSS. Meaning, you can’t use any JavaScript. No TypeKit, Typography.com, or the likes. However, you can use Google fonts.

Google has about a bazillion fonts to choose from and picking a pairing can ruin your day. I’d wager I’ve lost enough hours to drive from North Carolina to California just trying to find perfect font pairings. What I have found helpful is to find one you like and then just do a web search for “{fontname} pairing”.

For this template, I knew that I wanted “open sans” for the body and with that web search I found “Playfair Display” is one that compliments nicely. So we’ll use those two.

In Google fonts, I added both to a collection and then click the “use” button. From here you should see a style sheet to copy and paste.

<link href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Playfair+Display|Open+Sans:400,300,700" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" />

Implementing the font into the template

Now that we know what font to use and we have the code lets add it to our theme. MailChimp doesn’t allow you to edit HTML, so we are going to fake it by inserting code into their editor. Click the first text you see in the upper left:

Mailchimp Header

Next from the text editor select the code button. Here is a screen shot showing the button.

Mailchimp Code Button

Finally, copy and paste the below code and add it to the editor:

<link href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Playfair+Display|Open+Sans:400,300,700" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" />
<style type="text/css">h1,h2,h3,h4,h5 { 
  font-family: 'Playfair Display', serif !important; 
  font-weight: 300 !important; 
} 
h1 { 
  line-height:44px !important; 
  color: #111 !important;
} 
p, .footerContainer { 
  font-family: 'Open Sans', sans-serif !important; 
  font-weight: 300 !important; 
  color: #111 !important;
}
</style>

The above code is all standard CSS with the exception of having to use !important on everything to over-ride MailChimps default styling.

With that set, you should be able to preview and have a nice template with a custom font. Here is the finished design:

Completed Mailchimp Template

Wrap Up

My goal with this tutorial is to show a simple solution to a problem I encountered when creating my MailChimp template. The reason I choose this route over a custom template is because I wanted to keep the simplicity of their editor and to prevent having to deal with fighting HTML tables every week.

As with anything related to email if you try this be sure and test it in as many email clients as you can. Also, this method is not semantic because it’s including CSS outside the head, and I am confident that some will strip it out.