Outlook.com Removes Placeholder Links in Email

When developing an email design, its common that we use placeholder URLs in links or we leave it blank. However Outlook.com does not like that and will alter your link if the url is missing or contains a bare anchor (href=”#”).

How Outlook.com alters your links

As discovered by Rémi Parmentier in this bug report, Outlook.com and Office 365 strips placeholder links and turns them from:

<a href="">Link Text</a>


Link Text

This also happens if the link contains a relative link (a link without the http:) or a bare anchor (href=”#”).


Naturally this won’t be a problem when you actually send the email because you’ll have the proper URL in the link, but here’s a solution you can use when the link is “to be determined”.

The solution is to use a named anchor (ie. href=”#tbd”). Outlook.com will leave your link alone as long as you have characters after the ‘#’.

The following is a recap:

Email markup In Outlook.com
<a href=”http://foo.com”>Test<a> <a href=”http://foo.com”>Test<a>
<a href=””>Test<a> Test
<a href=”#”>Test<a> Test
<a href=”tbd”>Test<a> [tbd]Test
<a href=”#tbd”>Test<a> <a href=”#tbd”>Test<a>

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Latest Comments
  1. Niklas

    What about a <a> without a href? I usually don’t test in Outlook.com, because my audience is not using it, but I have about 25% undetectable Clients, so I don’t know for sure.
    Also I sometimes use anchors, where I have <a>’s without href? It would be nice to know if I would need to change my template.

    • Justin

      Hi Niklas, Outlook.com will strip links without href attributes as well. Just wondering why you would use anchors without hrefs?

      • Niklas

        I used a anchor with a href of “#art” as the link and for the destination I used a anchor with just name and Id of “art” as a destination. I had some issues with Apple Mail, but I researched on google and that seems to be a known bug. I wasn’t aware that Outlook.com won’t work, since all other outlook versions work fine. But now thinking of it, I probably could add the Id and name to a span or td aswell.

  2. Matt

    We use http://www.example.com which is exactly suited for this purpose. It’s a real URL so outlook doesn’t strip it out.

  3. Jair Aviles

    What about is my href is dynamic? For instances, I’m sending an email with anchor that is defined by a handlebars variable. It shows the brackets, although the url is valid. How could I fix this?

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