EmailShort for electronic mail, e-mail or email is text messages that may contain files, images, or other attachments sent through a network to a specified individual or group of individuals. The first e-mail was sent by Ray Tomlinson in 1971. By 1996, more electronic mail was being sent than postal mail. Below is an example and breakdown of an Internet e-mail address.


The first portion all e-mail addresses is the alias, user, group, or department of a company. In our above example support is the Technical Support department at Computer Hope.

Next, the @ (at sign) is used as a divider in the e-mail address and is always required for all SMTP e-mail addresses and was first used by Ray Tomlinson.

Finally, computerhope.com is the domain name of where the user belongs.

How to send and receive e-mail

To send and receive e-mail messages you can use an e-mail program, also known as an e-mail client such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird. When using an e-mail client you must have a server that stores and delivers your e-mail this service is provided by your ISP but can also be a service provided by another company. The e-mail client will connect to the server to download all new e-mail and deliver any unsent e-mail.

An alternative way of sending and receiving e-mail and a more popular solution for most people is an online e-mail service or webmail such as Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail. Many of the online e-mail services including the above examples are free or have a free account option.

Writing an e-mail

When writing a new e-mail message a window similar to the example below will appear. As can be seen, several fields are required when sending an e-mail, the From or Reply-To is a field that is automatically filled out and is where the e-mail returns if a reply is made. Next, the CC or Carbon Copy field allows you to send a copy of the message to another e-mail address, but is not a required field. The To field is where you type the e-mail address of who you are sending the e-mail address. Next, the subject line although not required should be a few words describing what the e-mail is about. Finally, the message body will be the location you type your message and is what will contain your signature.

Writing an e-mail message

What makes a valid e-mail address?

There are several rules that an e-mail address must follow in order to be valid.

  • As mentioned earlier, an e-mail must have a username followed by an @ (at sign) which is followed by the domain name that must have a domain suffix.
  • The username cannot be longer than 64 characters long and the domain name should have no more than 254 characters.
  • There should be only one at sign in an e-mail address.
  • The space and special characters: ( ) , : ; < > \ [ ] are allowed. However, a space, backslash, and quotation mark must be preceded with a backslash. Although valid some e-mail providers may still not allow these characters.
  • The username and e-mail addresses as a whole cannot begin or end with a period.
  • The e-mail must not have two or more periods next to each other.

Related pages

Also see: Attachment, BCC, Bounce, Chain mail, Distribution list, E-mail bomb, ESP, Exchange, FNEA, Graymail, Header, Inbox, Internet terms, Joe Job, Junk mail folder, Mail exploder, Mail list, Mail merge, Mailbox, MAPI, Message body, MIME, Network terms, Newsletter, Outbox, Phishing, Postmaster, Re:, Return address, Signature, SMTP, Snail mail, Spam, Subject, Thunderbird, Uuencode, X.400