CCNC/CCNC Module 7/Electronic Mail/Concepts and Terms

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Tutorial.png Electronic Mail 

Concepts and Terms | Security Considerations | First Steps with E-mail | Adjusting Settings | Self Assessment | Summary

Section 1 - Concepts and Terms

Concepts and Terms

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In this tutorial you will:
  • Understand the make-up and structure of an e-mail address
  • Understand the importance of network etiquette (netiquette)

Understand the Make-up and Structure of an E-mail Address

An email address can readily be distinguished from a web address by the fact that an email address always contains an @ symbol while a web address never does.

The structure of an email address is mailboxname@domain. For example, in the address:, josephine is the name of the mailbox and is the name of the domain to which it is attached. Usually the mailbox has a name which relates to the user. In this case she has used her first name. Sometimes you will find email addresses that have the form: In this case the period between the first name and surname has no special meaning. A hyphen could equally well have been used. There can be many mailboxes attached to the same domain. In this case only the part to the left of the @ symbol would change. Thus another mailbox attached to the above domain might be Understand the advantages of e-mail systems such as: speed of delivery, low cost, flexibility of using a Web-based e-mail account in different locations Advantages of email

Fast: Email is usually delivered within seconds to the recipient. The only delay occurs in the time taken by the recipient to check his/her email.

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Key points
  • Low cost: The only costs are the line costs. Usually many emails are sent at once, reducing the cost even further.
  • Attachments: Documents, images, sound and video files can be sent with email messages as attachments. This further saves cost of delivery of heavy and bulky articles. The recipient can print the attachment or save it to the appropriate medium.
  • Reliability: Although email is occasionally lost through technical problems on the Internet, it is much more reliable than ordinary mail. Electronic receipts can be requested by the sender to confirm that the mail has arrived at the recipient.
  • Security: Using encrypted links, sensitive and confidential messages can be sent across the Internet. Sending hard copies of messages has a much greater security risk.

Web Based Email

Normally an email client is an application which resides on a computer. Mail is downloaded from the ISP to the mail client. This can present a problem if you are away from your computer, especially if you are in a foreign country.

To overcome this problem, you can set up a web based email client. In this case, the email resides on a remote server and is never actually downloaded to a computer. The software for accessing the email resides on the mail server. The user accesses the mail site using a web browser. He/she would be required to enter a user name and password. Once these have been accepted, the user has access to the mailbox, which from there on functions in very much the same way as an ordinary mail client.

Web based mail clients need to be managed carefully. Usually there are quite strict size limitations. This means that they will fill quickly unless unneeded messages are deleted.

Web based email clients can be set up free on sites like Hotmail, Yahoo and Eudoramail. There are also sites which charge a fee. These would offer larger mail boxes and more features. These sites would be more suited to the business user who has to travel frequently.

Some domain registrars (organisations who register domains on your behalf) provide services such as web based mail linked to your own domain when you make use of their services. Understand the importance of network etiquette (netiquette) such as: using accurate descriptions in e-mail message subject fields, brevityin e-mail responses, spell checking outgoing e-mail

Although email tends to be less formal than written communication, a poorly written and structured email can cause offence. This is especially true in a business environment. Used correctly, it is a valuable business tool. Below are some points to observe when writing email.

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ACTIVITY that includes the following steps

1. Insert a meaningful subject heading. Users scan their mailboxes before opening emails. A brief accurate subject heading can help them decide the relative importance of mail. Many users delete mail that is suspicious. Email with empty or meaningless subject headings would fall into this category.

2. Use an appropriate mode of address. There is a tendency to start email with the greeting Hi Jo. This level of familiarity and informality may be appropriate if you know the person you are sending the email to. When sending a business email, rather err on the side of formality. Remember, many people may regard the casual mode of address as disrespectful.

3. Check the spelling of your email. It is very annoying to receive email with many misspellings. Most email clients allow you to spell check your email.

4. Likewise check the grammar of your email.

5. Do not use all upper case (capital) letters or all lower case letters when writing email. This is simply not acceptable in anything other than a casual environment. Use the correct case for text. Even friends could react negatively to such lazy construction.

6. Be clear but brief in constructing email messages. In is quite common for users to receive a hundred or more emails at a time. Take into account that they might be under pressure when they receive your email. Use correct paragraphing and headings to enhance the clarity.

7. Include a signature at the end of your emails. This should include your full names, the capacity under which you are writing, your email address, phone and fax numbers and any other information which might be relevant to the communication.