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Chris RyanFlag for United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

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Outlook corrupts Arabic Subject line


We have just sent a dozen or so test mails to Arabic recipients as part of a trial of our new Arabic system.

6 out 9 people received and read them ok.  3 people had problems because the Subject line was corrupted (see attached image), but the body text is fine.

Our initial analysis is that there is an issue with the encoding in some way. However some Outlook recipients have received the Subject line perfectly ok.

What is the most likely cause?
What questions should we be asking of our clients?
What is the most likely fix?

We are sending in UTF8.

Kind regards
Avatar of skullnobrains

how did you generate the email

the subject needs to be encoded specifically in a different way than the body

something like this

Subject: =?utf-8?Q?my_nice_subject?=

in this example my_nice_subject is supposed to be utf8 encoded, and quoted-printable encapsulated so only ascii appears in the mail headers
Avatar of Chris Ryan


Hi skullnobrains,

It was generated via our system e-mail module exim.

Thank you for your comments.  I will check how the headers are configured

Kind regards
Have you checked that the recipients have the appropriate language pack installed

If they are using outlook
2003, 2007, or 2010

I would also make sure they have the latest Service Pack installed

2003= SP3
Hi skullnobrains,

We checked that we are using the correct syntax for the ut-f8 encoding.

We deliberately decided not to include the ?Q modifier since our understanding is that there would be a greater chance of corruption since it is a print modifier.

Could you be kind enough to let me know why you believe it is a valid modifier?

Kind regards
Hi apache09

Thanks for your input

We have no control over the all the different clients' Outlook versions.

We know that all the clients receive Arabic e-mails every day of their lives because this is their native language.

We therefore need a solution that is driven from our end, not theirs.

Kind regards
Avatar of skullnobrains

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Although very helpful, it was not the cause of the problems.

We eventually found the solution for ourselves.

There is a limit of 80 characters on a line.  The way that the encoding was working meant that the final result exceeded the 80 limit which through out the receiving client.
thanks for the insight.

actually beware that it is likely that one server messed with the long lines along the way rather than outlook being unable to handle them.

also note that there were many RFCs relative to line length in email and email headers.
recommendations range from 64, then 72, and later 256 and even no limit in the latest ones if i remember correctly. if you want to go the safe way, 80 is a bit too much
Thanks skullnobrains

I will pass this onto the team for future reference :)