Advice on sending e-mail messages

Sending an e-mail message is, in theory, something easy to do. I am writing these advices just to help everybody get better organized.

Five fields, three functions

All e-mail clients, web-based or not, will provide you with five fields to compose your e-mail message: from, to, cc, bcc plus one for the message itself.

The “from” field is to customize which e-mail address you will be sending your e-mail from. It is aimed at those people who handle more than one account from a same e-mail client program, and need to choose the sender's e-mail address of certain communications. In the “to” field, you will state the main recipients of your message; while in the "cc" [carbon copy] field you state any secondary receivers. The "bcc" [blind carbon copy] field is there in case you wish to send your message to additional recipients without letting the rest of the receivers know.

Needless to say, the large space below is for you to write your letter.

An address book and many subgroups

E-mail clients come along with an option which helps you store the names and e-mail addresses of the people with which you correspond most frequently. It is called the address book. Some address books help you store more data than just a name and an e-mail address, but it is up to you whether to use them or not.

What it is not well known is that address books accept grouping your contacts into categories, and using them to send e-mails easily. Web-based e-mail clients have them too. As a matter of fact, on Hotmail and Yahoo!, you find this option in the contacts link, as "categories". On Gmail, you also click the contacts link, and create or organize "groups"; while on AOL they call them "lists". If you organize your e-mail addresses in groups, you can save time when composing your message to a group of people in the same category. Instead of including the name of any and all of the recipients in each group, you include the name of the set, and the e-mail software will add the addresses for you.

In both cases my advice is to try to keep each group around or under 20 contacts. You can create as many groups as you want, so having group1, group2 and group3 is easier to add than having one large group of 70 contacts, and having your e-mail blocked for reaching a spam limit or a sending limit.

Keep in mind that every e-mail account will have a sending limit, so don't try to abuse the service to avoid any problems.

Replying properly

This last advice is about replying e-mails. Unfortunately, people have got used to receiving an e-mail and sending their replies quoting the original message below the one they are sending. This is a very uncomfortable practice.

Humans (except perhaps in Japan) are used to reading texts from top to bottom. Replying above the original message will cut our commonly understood flow of communication. To avoid this and help everybody, do your best and reply to your receivers below the original message. That way, the exchange of communications will follow a more natural pattern.

Computers + Online