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I'm creating a content type specifically for email newsletters, which will be sent using phplist (client prefers phplist to using a Drupal newsletter module such as Simplenews).

So I'm planning to use a module like ThemeKey or Content Theme to create a new theme specifically for newsletter content type. Like most newsletter templates, the theme will use tables and lots of inline CSS.

I haven't seen any Drupal base themes for newsletters. Before I build from scratch, is there any advice or suggested theme/module I might have overlooked?

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I'd write the db queries yourself (don't use views) so that you have full control over the output. Use a custom module to do the queries and write the html. You don't need a whole new theme, because the CSS needs to be inline for email clients to work properly.

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