Email Definition

If you’re on the internet, you more than likely know how to send an email, but do you really know what information is sent or used when an email is sent and how to send different types of emails. This all sounds terribly advanced, but in actual fact is very easy to understand and in most cases, most of the info required for sending emails has been taken care of by your email software.

Email, E-mail and / or EMail all mean the same thing, namely Electronic Email which basically means sending mail using the internet technology to send and / or receive mails. Emails need to be sent in a particular format to stick to email standards which dictate whether your email inevitably gets to your recipient. The format of your emails are taken care of by your email client e.g. Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird, etc

Each email is divided into 2 sections namely a Header and a Body section.

Header

The header section of the email typically includes the following fields:

  • From email address and in some instances, the name of the person sending the email
  • To email address and in some instances, the name of the person who the email will be sent to.
  • Subject – the subject of the email / email content / short and brief intro to the email
  • Date and time of when the email was sent – this part of the header is taken care of by your email client.

In certain scenarios or instances, other headers will be included such as:

  • CC email address(es) – additional email addresses that the email is sent to (Carbon Copy)
  • BCC email address(es) – same as the CC email address(es), but email addresses that will be hidden from the recipient (Blind Carbon Copy)

Other header information that a typical user such as you would not even be aware of would include:

  • Received – tracking information that has been generated by the mail server through which the email has been sent
  • Content-Type- information on how the email should be displayed to the recipient
  • Reply-to email address- the email address that the email should be sent to should the recipient press the “Reply” button.
  • References – Message-ID of the message that this is a reply to, and the message-id of this message, etc.
  • In-Reply-To – Message-ID of the message that this is a reply to.

Body

This is the part of the email that everyone who sends emails is familiar with. The body is the text of the email that the recipient opens an email to read. The Header section is more for the email client software and mail servers and the Body section is the juicy part for the recipient.

The Body section of the email is usually setup in one of the following:

  • Plain text – like a text document where there is no formatting
  • Rich Text – like a Word Document where formatting such as italics, bold text, underlined text, etc are used
  • HTML- like a web page where images, hyperlinks, specially formatted text is used

HTML emails often look far more beautiful that the Plain Text or Rich Text options which is why it has become such a valuable tool for sending mailers / newsletters out. The unfortunate thing with HTML emails is that with the increase of SPAM, HTML emails are not always displayed as nicely and sometimes don’t even get through to the recipient. And, there is also the chance that the email client does not support HTML.

Summary

Email is a very useful tool for both business and personal use. Can you imagine your life without email? Although it has certainly contributed to the fast paced times we live in, it has made our lives easier in getting information to people quickly and efficiently.