Email Logistics

Email’s advantage is that users can communicate quickly and easily. To avoid frustrating the receivers of your messages, consider the following logistical tips:

Subject Line

Always include the subject or topic of your message on the subject line so that recipients can see at a glance both who the message is from and what it concerns. Sometimes users fill in the subject line with the beginning of a question or statement that runs into the first line of the message. Unless you can announce the subject of your message in the first two or three words of this sentence, such a subject line is not helpful for recipients.

Reply Context

If your email program doesn't allow you to include the original message in your reply, be sure to restate the original question or request. You may think you're saving time by replying "1. No. 2. Yes. 3. Yes." to an email message with three questions, but you cost your recipient the extra time it takes to look up the original message or to ask you again (because few email writers remember the exact wording of their original messages).

If you can quote the original message when you reply, don't embed your responses in the middle of the original text. Make sure your responses are clearly visible on the screen.

Signature File

Create a Signature File to include at the bottom of your email messages. This way, readers won't have to search for identifying information.

For example:
Elizabeth Messenger
1222 South Drive
Somewhere, CO 80521

Attaching Files

When you attach a file, you should always write a message that describes the contents and format of the attachment. Don't assume that the recipient has the same software unless you know you've sent files in that format before. When in doubt, send both a formatted file and a file saved as ASCII (or DOS or plain text). Be sure to tell the recipient in your message what version of the software you've used to save the file.

Just as we usually follow a fax with a telephone call to be sure the fax arrived clearly and completely, you should confirm that your attachment arrived in a readable format. In your message, you can ask the recipient to reply to your message, or you might follow up with a telephone call (depending on how important the documents/files are to both you and the recipient).


Forwarding email messages allows you to pass information on to others. For example, you receive a message canceling the recycling meeting due to a threatening storm. You can then add your own text if necessary, perhaps to reschedule the meeting, and forward the message to everyone in the group.

Carbon Copies

Email, like business letters, can include a carbon copy, or cc. This email feature allows you to send a copy of the message to someone else. Carbon copies are sent at the same time as the original, making them different from forwarding. Unlike blind carbon copies, carbon copies allow the person receiving the message to see that the message was "copied" to someone else. For example, while working on a paper, you've requested an interview with a researcher. You cc the other members in your group to let them know you sent the message. Typically, a carbon copy is used to inform others of the message; they are not required to respond.

Blind Carbon Copies

A blind carbon copy, bcc, allows you to send a copy of your message to someone else. Blind carbon copies are sent at the same time as the original, making them different from forwarding. Unlike carbon copies, blind carbon copies do not show the receiver that the message was "copied" to someone else. For example, one of your group members has not been completing his tasks. When you email the group with a task and meeting schedule, you bcc the instructor so she is aware of the group's activities. This way, the lazy group member is not aware that the instructor is also informed of the group's activities.

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