Go to the Russian language version of this page

Cyrillic (Russian) in MS Outlook 2000 and newer versions

Paul Gorodyansky 'Cyrillic (Russian): instructions for Windows and Internet'

Important!   As it was noted in the section of my site called "Russian in Browsers/Mail/News", where I list the instructions for some Internet applications, including this page about MS Outlook,
there is no reason to read about the tune-up for this program if you haven't learned yet about Windows itself - Cyrillic fonts and Russian encodings. It is covered in a section of my site called "Cyrillic fonts and encodings under Windows".
That is, it's assumed that you have your Cyrillic fonts activated and become familiar with Cyrillic encodings used under MS Windows.

It's also assumed that you have Russian keyboard tools activated as described in the "Russian Keyboard" section of my site, if you are going to write in Russian in MS Outlook.

The Cyrillic tune-up for Outlook 2000 and later versions is the same, so I will use "Outlook 2000" in the text but the same goes for Outlook 2002/2003.
There is one difference in the functionality (not in the tune-up steps) between these two products and it will be addressed in the text.

Environment. I have a regular U.S. English Windows, I did not make any Russification of my Windows on the system level.
The curent user locale in my Control Panel is "English (United States)".

MS Outlook 2000 settings.
I did not 'Russify' my MS Outlook 2000 in any way, all original settings are untouched.
That is, in Tools/Options/MailFormat I still have the original "Western" settings in "International Options" and there were no changes in "Fonts".

It is possible, under such non-Russian version of Windows, to send and receive Russian e-mail using MS Outlook 2000.

Limitation for 2000/2002 versions. Cyrillic can not be used in a Subject of an e-mail or in sender's name field. MS Outlook 2003 does not have such limitation anymore.

1. Sending

MS Outlook 2000 offers three formats for an outgoing message:

The default format for MS Outlook is Rich Text. This is similar to MS Word text. MS Outlook itself receives Rich Text e-mail Okay, but other e-mail programs (most of them) do not use Rich Text and may not understand Cyrillic sent in such format.

Sending e-mail in HTML format is also not recommended - unlike Rich Text format, HTML is used in some e-mail systems, but many other Mail servers and programs can not work with HTML, so if you want to make sure that every e-mail program/server will accept your message, then you should not use HTML (if you do know that you specific correspondent receives HTML fine, then you sure can use HTML format).

Most people use a Plain Text in their mail programs, because it guarantees that such message will be processed Ok and will be readable for all and every user.

This is why, before starting to type my e-mail that I am going to send to the Internet, I do the following in my message preparation window:

Note. I personally use MS Outlook 2000 at work, where it is our corporate Mail software, so inside the organization I can send Rich Text messages in Russian - because I do know that my Russian-speaking co-workers will read them in MS Outlook 2000 and not in some other mail program. Rich Text is nice, it allows colors, etc.
So, for internal e-mail I do not do this step of selecting a Plain Text option.

I send e-mail to 'outside world' from MS Outlook 2000 only on a very rare occasion and every time I do it, I perform this step of choosing Plain Text in "Format" menu item of my message preparation window, to make sure that any e-mail program will be able to receive my message.
If you have a different situation and use MS Outlook 2000 often for sending e-mail to 'outside world', then you can avoid this step of selecting Plain Text every time - make Plain Text your default format:

Now every New message you prepare will have already "Plain Text" checked under "Format".

Note. But it's not the case for Reply (or Forward) - there MS Outlook 2000 will use a format of the original message, so you need to verify that "Plain Text" is selected under Format after you click on Reply (or Forward).

This was a format selection step.

Now I need to choose one of Cyrillic encodings to be used by MS Outlook when it sends my letter to the network
(situation with Cyrillic encodings is explained in details on my page "Cyrillic fonts and encodings under MS Windows).

Most common Russian encoding for the messages 'traveling' over the Internet, is KOI8-R (Cyrillic(KOI8-R)), but you may use instead Windows-1251 encoding (Cyrillic(Windows)), if you know for sure that this is what your correspondent is expecting:

If you send Russian e-mails often, then you can avoid doing this encoding selection every time - you can make, say, KOI8-R a default encoding for your outgoing messages:

Now every New message you prepare will have already this Russian encoding pre-set, so you don't need to go to Format/Encoding in your message preparation window.

Note. But it's not the case for Reply (or Forward) - there MS Outlook 2000 will use an encoding of the original message, so you need to verify that you have needed Cyrillic encoding in Format/Encoding after you click on Reply (or Forward).

That's it. Now you can type your letter, using English and Russian characters in it.

Remember, no Russian is allowed in the Subject of your e-mail.

Note. You should not use Unicode as an encoding for your Cyrillic e-mail: many Mail programs will not be able to show it to a reader.
You should use either KOI8-R (preferred) or Windows-1251 encoding.

2. Receiving

MS Outlook does not need any tune-up here, you can just normally read a Russian e-mail that was sent either in KOI8-R encoding or in Windows-1251 encoding.

Exception: If a sender used Russian also in the Subject, then you will not be able to read such Subject.

Important. Sometimes you may receive a Russian e-mail where encoding is not specified correctly.
For example, Web-based mail accounts such as Yahoo! Mail or HotMail let you type in Russian - using KOI8-R encoding or Windows-1251 encoding (based on what you select in your browser), but when you click on Send, these Web-based Mail systems always write "encoding=Western" in the system header of that e-mail.
In the Preview panel MS Outlook then shows you some gibberish instead of Russian for such incoming e-mail.

But you still can read it in your Outlook 2000 - just double-click on this e-mail to open it in its own window and then try to make the text readable:

Note. Outlook 2000 vs Outlook 2002
As far as I heard, new Outlook XP (aka Outlook 2002) does not allow such work-around for the messages that specify wrong encoding as my Outlook 2000 does.
That is, you will not be able to read such incoming messages.
But newer Outlook 2003 does not have such issue, it behaves here as Outlook 2000.

So to solve that problem in Outlook 2002: if you know how to use MS Outlook macros (I don't), you can try to use a macro that makes some of such messages readable in Outlook 2002.
It's for messages that have Russian KOI8-R text inside and system header states that it's "Western" encoding message.
If you also need to deal with the messages of that type that have Russian windows-1251 text inside, you can either write your own macro using existing one as an example, or contact the author of the macros whether he has one for windows-1251, too.

Here is the information about this macro (in Russian) - I saw it in the Newsgroup microsoft.public.ru.russian.outlook:

By the way, if you are curious, then you may see yourself that the encoding of such e-mail is erroneously specified as "Western":
in the menu, go to View/Options and look at "Internet Headers" field at the bottom. You will see something like "charset=us-ascii" or "charset=iso-8859-1". Both variants mean the same - an encoding of "Western" character set.

That is, if a sender tuned-up his e-mail software correctly, then such Russian e-mail is readable everywhere - in MS Outlook, in Netscape, in Outlook Express, etc.
But if the message is a problematic one, then:

Paul Gorodyansky. 'Cyrillic (Russian): instructions for Windows and Internet'