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The Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing
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Section 2.12.1

Electronic Mail

Electronic mail (e-mail) allows for the almost instantaneous transmission of a message from one computer through a network to one or more other computers and is rapidly becoming one of the main forms of both professional and personal communication.

Characteristics of E-Mail

Like a telephone conversation, e-mail is immediate and informal. Like a memorandum, it is more precise than an oral conversation, it provides a record of the communication, and it can send a single message to a large number of people.

Unlike telephone conversations or memoranda, e-mail should not be considered private. E-mail is sent through public networks where messages are often copied multiple times during transmission.

Whereas the basic unit of a memorandum is the single 8½-by-11-inch page, the basic unit of an e-mail is the 22-line screen. Consequently, e-mails should be kept short and concise. Finally, because e-mails are generated so easily, many individuals receive scores of messages every day.

Guidelines for Writing Effective E-Mail

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