Electronic Mail (Email)

Electronic Mail (Email): The Electronic mail often abbreviated as Email, email, e-mail or simply mail. It enables us in exchanging digital messages. Electronic mail can be termed as the fastest post office which is the most commonly used service of the internet. The messages can be sent instantaneously to any individual who has an email address or to many persons at the same time.

The foundation for today's e-mail service was created in the early ARPANET in extension to the File Transfer Protocol (FTP). An e-mail sent in the early 1970s looked very similar to one sent on the Internet today but today it is carried by the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP).

a) Email Address: The email address has three basic components. The “username”, the “@” sign and the “users’ location or domain”. Each Email address goes from the specific to the general. A typical example is “lis-forum@ncsi.iisc.ernet.in”. Here

lis-forum: It is the user id.

@: It is a separator between user id and different organizational level of the institution.

Rest: The rest portions after “@” sign are the level of the domain name. Levels of the domains are nothing but different organizational levels. In the above example there are four levels to the domain name.

ncsi: It stands for National Centre for Scientific Information.

iisc: It stands for Indian Institute of Science. The National Centre for Scientific Information is a part of the Indian Institute of Science.

ernet: It stands for the Education and Research Network. The IISC is covered under ERNET.

in: It stands for India.

            The above one is a very complex example of email address. However, our mostly used email address has only three to five components. For example, in the rohit@gmail.com email id, “rohit” is the user id, “@” is the separator, “gmail” stands for Google Mail, which is the email service provider, and “.com” means Gmail is the commercial organization.

b) Anatomy of Email Message: Messages in an electronic mail consists of three major sections. The message header, the message body, and attachment. The first two form the email’s content.

i) Header: The message header contains control information, including, minimally, an originator's email address and one or more recipient addresses. Usually, additional information is added, such as a subject header field structured into fields like summary, sender, receiver, and other information about the e-mail. The message header generally includes at least the following fields:

From: It includes the e-mail address and, optionally, the name of the sender who sends the email. The field is filled up automatically when a message is sent.

To: Here the e-mail address(es) and, optionally, name(s) of the message's recipient(s) is/are included. It indicates primary recipient (more than one allowed), for secondary recipients Carbon copy (Cc) and Blind Carbon Copy (Bcc) is used to make the data individual to other recipient. The "To:" field is similar to the addressing at the top of a conventional letter which is delivered according to the address on the outer envelope. Many e-mail clients will mark e-mail in the inbox differently depending on whether the addresses are in the “To:” or “Cc:” list.

Subject: A brief summary of the message.

Date: The local time and date when the message was written. Many email clients fill this in automatically when sending. The recipient's client may then display the time in the format and time zone local to her.

Message-ID: It is also an automatically generated field used to prevent multiple deliveries and for reference in “In-Reply-To”. The In-Reply-To is used to link related messages together.

ii) Body: The e-mail clients generally allow the use of either plain text or HTML for the message body at the option of the user. HTML e-mail messages often include an automatically-generated plain text copy as well, for reason of compatibility. The body sometimes contains a signature block at the end. This is exactly the same as the body of a regular letter. The header is separated from the body by a blank line.

            Advantages of HTML extend to the ability to include inline links and images, to set apart previous messages in block quotes, wrap naturally on any display, use emphasis such as underlines and italics, and change font styles. Its disadvantages include- the increased size of the email, privacy concerns about web bugs, abuse of HTML email as a vector for phishing attacks and the spread of malicious software. Mailing lists commonly insist that all posts to be made in plain-text for all the above reasons. Again, a significant number of readers using text-based e-mail clients. So, avoiding HTML can guarantee delivering the email.

iii) Attachments: The attachments are the files that are sent through the email. Many email systems does not allow the software or the file that contains “setup.exe” to be sent through email as attachments.

c) Advantages and Disadvantages of Email: There are numerous ways in which people have changed the way they communicate. E-mail is certainly one of them, particularly when others live at a distance.  E-mail provides a way to exchange information between two or more people with no set-up costs and with little or no expense.  With real time communication by meetings or phone calls, participants have to work on the same schedule, and each participant must spend the same amount of time in the meeting or call. E-mail allows each participant in controlling their schedule independently.

Most information or business workers today spend from one to two hours of their working day on e-mail: reading, ordering, sorting, and writing.

The advantages of email over post offices are –

i) Its high speed;

ii) No cost of paper envelop and postal system;

iii) The system provides surety of the delivery of mail because if the mail is not delivered due to some reason then the undelivered mail bounces back to the sender, mostly within minutes.

iv) The email also allows to attach word processing document, picture, graphic, video etc.


  The disadvantages of email are: it is a push technology i.e the sender controls who receives the information. Convenient availability of mailing lists and use of "copy all" can lead to people receiving unwanted or irrelevant information of no use to them. The other problems include Information overload, spamming (unsolicited commercial or bulk e-mail) computer viruses,  e-mail bombardment (the intentional sending of large volumes of messages to a target address),  phishing (the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication), e-mail worms (using e-mail as a way of replicating themselves into vulnerable computers) and E-mail spoofing (when the header information of an email is altered to make the message appear to come from a known or trusted source. It is often used as a trick to collect personal information).





1) Open a Gmail account and use it to communicate with your friends.

2) Send an email to your friend informing him/her about the Online UGC NET Guide in Library and Information Science. Also, attach your biodata to him in the same email.


d) Examples: Now, as you understood the basics of email, you can open a free email account in the following Email service providers. We recommend you to use Gmail for its storage capacity as well as many more advanced features it offers. After opening the account, you are requested to check for email regularly.

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AIM Mail






MSN Hotmail / Windows Live Mail






Yahoo! Mail