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Wired! Philippines The Electronic Mail

by smbea <mabelle@msc.net.ph>

 

Communication is the essence of the Internet. More than storing information that can be retrieved with just a click of a button, the network age has produced one of the most practical developments, called the electronic mail or simply e-mail.

E-mail, in its own right, has become one of the most popular forms of communicating with other people on the internet. Aside from being able to send personal notes, e-mail enables people to receive and send documents, programs, pictures and other files.

 

E-mail Fundamentals

A fundamental concept of e-mail is the address. The e-mail address provides the information needed to transfer a message from you to another user located in another part of the world. E-mail works just like regular snail mail - you write a message, you mail it or send it, and it gets delivered to the other person. With e-mail, you would need an internet connection and a mail program that sends and receives your mail according to a standard protocol, called the Standard Mail Transfer Protocol or SMTP.

All e-mail addresses have three parts: the username (the name before the @ sign), the @ sign (which separates the username from the domain), and the address or domain name of the user's mail server (separated by a dot).

 

E-mail Anatomy

An e-mail basically has two parts: the header and the body. The header contains the date, sending address, receiving address, subject, and carbon copy information while the body contains the e-mail message.

Message ID

an identifying tag assigned to an e-mail message (usually information about sender and the sender's system, including the date and the message' routing information)

Date

the date and time the message was sent

To

the address the message is intended to (may be one or more e-mail addresses)

From

the sender's e-mail address

Subject

tells the recipient the topic of the message

Cc

stands for carbon copy; e-mail addresses of other recipients of the message

Bcc

stands for blind carbon copy; used when the sender doesn't want the recipient to know to whom he is sending a carbon copy

Attachment

a file or a document from the sender's computer appended to the e-mail message

 

The Message. Messages should be succinct and straight to the point. The limit size of an e-mail message is two megabytes. Paragraphs should be kept short and words should be concise without having to sacrifice clarity. Writing with all caps is equivalent to shouting, and spelling and typographical errors should be kept to a minimum. Long messages should be written offline to save connection time.

The Signature. Signature is appended at the end of each e-mail message. It helps people identify and locate the sender. Signatures should be kept short and simple, with only the basic information about the sender included (such as name, position, address, phone/fax number), and limited to only four to six lines.

Electronic Folders. These are the folders within your e-mail program that enables you to organize all your incoming mail by topic or by person. A folder labelled "Jim" will contain all e-mails from Jim.

Replying to and Forwarding Messages. Some e-mail programs enable the user to reply to an e-mail message by simply hitting on the reply button. This eliminates the event of mis-typing the e-mail address of the person being replied to. This command automatically addresses the reply and gives the option of including all or some of the parts of the original message. The original message is often preceded by a > character to distinguish the original text from the reply.

Bounced E-Mail Messages. A bounced e-mail is the result of either one of the following: (1) the e-mail address of the recipient is incomplete or typed wrong; (2) the domain doesn't exist; (3) the domain exists but the username doesn't; (4) or the receiving system is not operational or "down". The bounced message usually includes the reason for the bounce, the full text of the message, and all the headers.

Address Books and Distribution Lists. Address books enable you to add, delete, and change entries for those with whom you regularly correspond. Mailing or distribution lists enable you to group people you regularly send a message to and assigning an identifying name for that group. After creating a mailing list, when you want to send all the people on that list a message, you simply type the name of the list and the message will be send to everyone in that list without you having to type all their e-mail addresses.

 

E-mail Guides

  • Remember to include just enough (not everything!) of the original text to your e-mail reply. This proves helpful in helping you address questions directly and point-by-point.
  • Delete full headers in forwarded mails. Usually, the headers of forwarded messages end up being larger than the content of the e-mail instead. This takes up bandwidth.
  • Avoid lines longer than 80 characters. Most terminals can only hold 80 characters so they have to be wrapped at the right edge. This produces bad spacing on the screen.
  • Avoid having oversized signatures. Keep your signature files to a maximum of six lines
  • Write to be understood. Don't mutilate spellings or invent words. Utilize your e-mail program's spell checker.
  • Edit your replies
  • Check the recipient's address before sending your message.

See also Fun with E-mail

References

  • Internet Essentials by Linda Armbruster, 1994
  • ICONnect Online Courses, 1996
  • Fun4U by Bob Appleton, 1997
  • Email4U by Bob Appleton, 1997
  • Accessing the Internet by E-Mail by Bob Rankin, 1998

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