An Introduction to Email

By David Hughes

The Do's and Don'ts of Emailing


Introduction

Once you have settled in on the internet and all the fun of trawling through peoples home pages has gone, most people spend there time looking at the occasional web page which they either have to, or they just want to because they have heard of it from somewhere. The other thing that people do is to maintain relationships with friends through the internet, this is mainly done with E-Mail, although IRC also plays a role in this. However the focus of this guide is E-Mail so that‘s what I am going to write about.

The Basic E-Mail

The common garden email follows a pretty well defined format. It comes in three sections, the first being the headers. This includes who it is from, what it is about and the time and date it was sent. The second part is the body of the E-Mail, this is the bit that you write and lastly the third part is the signature. In this guide I will write about each of these three parts in turn, explaining the various options and rules that apply to each.


The Headers

The headers are displayed along the top of the E-Mail.
Please note not all these headers are displayed automatically, and those which are not can be accessed by pressing the menu mouse button in the E-Mail composition window and then going to the headers sub-menu.

The From Header:
This, as you might have already guessed contains who the address of the person who sent the E-Mail.

The Subject Header:
This contains a brief over view of what the E-Mail is about, if you like it is the content in a nutshell.

The Date:
This shows the date and time at which the message was sent.

To:
This tells you who the E-Mail has been/is going to be sent to - please note this field will only be visible in a received E-Mail if it was sent to more than one person.

CC and BCC:
The two most infrequently used fields are CC and BCC. Their names are historical and mean Carbon Copy and Blind Carbon Copy. The former you may have come across in business; secretaries and typists make copies of important documents by putting a sheet of carbon paper behind the original when it is being typed. In the context of the internet, a Carbon copy is a copy of an E-Mail which is sent out in addition to the person addressed in the To: field. For example, if I wanted to send a copy f an E-Mail to the ZFC and to Christina West, I would put the ZFC's E-Mail address in the To: field and I would put Christina's address in the CC: Field, but then just suppose I want to send a copy of the E-Mail to Vince M Hudd as well, I would just put a comma after Christina's address in the CC: filed and then add Vince's to the end. There is no limit to how many times you can do this.

Blind carbon copies are slightly different, you see when you send a copy of an E-mail via the CC: field to someone, the E-Mail address of everybody else you sent a copy to appears in the CC: field. Now, there might come a time when you want to give a copy of the E-Mail to someone in secret, that is where the BCC field is useful. For example, just suppose that I wanted to send a copy of my earlier E-Mail to Tim Watts without Christina or Vince or the ZFC knowing, I would simply put Tim's E-mail address into the BCC field. That way he would get a copy but his name would not show up in the CC: or the To: fields and so know one except for me and Tim would know that I had sent him a copy.


The Body Of The E-Mail

Once you have set up the headers on your E-Mail it is time to start writing the actual message. When writing an E-Mail it should be noted that it actually bears little resemblance to writing a proper letter. For instance when you write a letter to someone you will probably put your address in the top right hand corner of the letter, now in an E-Mail there is absolutely no point what so ever in doing this as the when you send an E-Mail to someone your address is always shown in the From: field.

Another thing the is different about E-Mails is that you very rarely see one that starts with "Dear" as a paper letter would. Most of the time you would just put the recipient name and jump straight in. For example someone might type,

Hi Mark,

I have had this really great idea......................

or

Mark,

I have had the greatest idea....................

It is arguable that the style of writing used in an E-Mail is very similar to a memo, in that people can just type in an E-Mail and send it off in a matter of seconds. However how you write an E-Mail is a matter of taste and don't be put off from starting an E-Mail with Dear if you want to.

After the salutations you can get on with writing the E-Mail, once this is finished you can sign off with a "Bye" or whatever you want.


Your Signature

Your signature file is a piece of text which gets automatically appended to the bottom of and E-Mail/News item you send out. It is useful because it can have in it the URL of your homepage or your telephone number or anything you want really. BUT let me just warn you now your signature file should NOT be over 5 or 6 lines long, as if it is it might result in you getting flamed. To edit your signature get to the !Voyager icon and go to the preferences-user menu, once there you should see a button labelled "Edit Signature File" click this and your signature file will be brought up for you to edit.

Occasionally you might see someone with a big "ASCII Art" picture in there signature, while this can be appealing to the eye it wastes valuable internet resources and people will tend to complain.

To alter your signature file go to the !Voyager preferences-User and click on the "Edit Signature" Icon.


Replying To An E-Mail

When replying to an E-Mail (Or a news article for that matter) it is common practice to add "RE:" to the start of the "Subject:" field on the return E-Mail. So if I sent you an E-Mail with the subject "Big Juicy Apples" you might send it back to me with the subject "RE: Big Juicy Apples" . This does not repeat in Infinitum - if the line already starts with "RE:" then it is left as it is.


Quoting

When in the !Voyager E-Mail window, and when you are reading an E-Mail there are a number of ways to reply to it. The first is to click on the pencil icon. This brings up a blank E-Mail with the "To:" field filled in with the senders address and it automatically adds "RE:" to the "Subject:" field. The other way s to click on the pair of Quote marks. This will confront you with a menu with 4 options on it, here they are explained in detail.

Quote

This quotes all the text from the previous E-Mail to the reply. To show it is quoted text it adds a ">"

character to the beginning of each quoted line. You can change the character used by going to the !Voyager-Preferences-E-Mail options and then altering the character inside the "Quote With" box. If you see a line with ">>" in front of it this means it has been quoted twice. For example, I sent an E-Mail to Vince and then Vince quoted it and sent it back to me, I then quoted it and sent it back to him. The original text from the original E-Mail I sent to Vince has been quoted twice. It is not necessary to do this, as you can alter the quoted text from within the compose E-Mail window.This option also puts the date and time the E-Mail was sent at the top of the E-Mail like this.

On Fri 16 Aug 96 (14:55:13), gyi95awa@borlange.du.se wrote:

(Quoted or Forwarded text goes here)

Forward

This option is similar to "Quote" the only difference is it does not put the quote character at the beginning of each line.

Selection

If this option is ticked the mail program will only Quote or Forward the selected text.

Remove Signature

This removes the persons signature from the bottom of the Quoted or Forwarded text.


Problems

Like the postal service the internet can fail. Some stuff can get undelivered or lost. But this is usually a minor problem because you will usually be informed that something went wrong along the way. A far more serious problem is the faking of E-Mails. This can be done quite easily, and can cause havoc, arguments and flame wars. It can however sometimes be used for a joke, like an E-Mail from "god@heaven.com". Luckily badly forged E-Mails are quite easy to spot, but I won't go into that here.

Smileys

To show emotions in E-Mails there are a variety of ASCII art smileys here are a few.

:-) Happy Smiley

:-( Sad Smiley

;-) Winking Smiley

:-P Raspberry Smiley

:-/ Unsure/Slightly Unhappy Smiley

:-o Surprised Smiley

:-X Kissing Smiley

:-|| Angry Smiley

:^D Chuffed Smiley

8-] Cosmic Smiley

|-{ Unimpressed Smiley

:-D Laughing Smiley

:-* Mistaken Smiley (Woops !)

:-, Smirking Smiley

:-V Shouting Smiley

:-| Serious Smiley

:-C Incredulous

:-B Drooling Smiley

||:-( Frowning Smiley

B-) Smug Smiley


The most important thing to remember when sending an E-Mail is to makesure you are happy with what you are sending. So just check your E-Mail before clicking on that send button !

David Hughes A 13 Year Old
Toxics On IRC Channel #Argonet