In this lesson, you will review the basics of email as well as its uses. You will then look further into some tips for the best ways to use this digital tool. You will also explore how strong technology skills can help you when it comes to email. Specifically, this lesson will cover:
- Email Basics
- Email and Your Digital Identity
- Email Best Practices
- Parts of an Email
- Subject of Email
- Sending Email
1. Email Basics
Email is short for “electronic mail.” Chances are you use this tool daily. It is a digital tool used often both at work and at home. Other communication tools are also now widely used (chat, instant messaging, etc), but email is still an essential tool for most people. It is not only a tool for communication. It is also often a requirement for things like registering products or creating social media accounts. Although you likely use email, here’s a description of email components, as well as terminology, so that you can get the most out of it:
- Email Messages: Email messages are frequently referred to as “emails.” This is simply a message that one user sends electronically to another user. For instance, your professor may send email messages to the class with course updates.
- Email Accounts: In order to use email, you and your message recipient will need an email account, which also includes an email address. An email address includes a username and domain name (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Email Providers: Email providers include both email clients and programs. Email clients and providers are similar in that they offer the same basic function to users - access to email. However, clients are programs installed on your device, such as Microsoft Office, and services are web services that are accessed online, such as Gmail from Google.
- Email Privacy: Because email is sent and received electronically, there is a chance that it may not stay private. However, email clients and services put systems in place to increase privacy. These systems retain records of your emails and compile data from users to improve the functionality of their systems. Your specific messages, however, are not actually read by the clients and services. Additionally, most clients and services put privacy systems in place, such as recognizing when an email account is accessed by a new computer and will ask the user additional security questions.
- Electronic mail used to send and receive messages.
2. Email and Your Digital Identity
digital identity and your email is one important aspect of that. From what you send to your friends to what you send to your supervisor…..your email sends a message about who you are. This piece of your “digital footprint” can be the difference between getting a call for an interview and being viewed as not professional enough to be taken seriously.
We all have a
For personal email, most email services will allow you to select your own username. Understand that this could be the first impression someone has of you. You want to select something professional and not controversial. If an organization is comparing the resumes of two applicants with similar backgrounds, they will be much more likely to interview someone with an email address of Karena_Lockhart@gmail.com than someone with an email address of Ben_likes_parties@gmail.com.
- Digital Identity
- Your digital footprint which provides electronic information about who you are.
3. Email Best Practices
It is important to pay attention to details anytime you send an email. Whether to an individual or a group, it is easy to send something that may be taken the wrong way or that leaves out key details. Anytime you are ready to send an email, remember that the DPP starts with making sure you are selecting the right tool. If you determine email is best for the job, keep the items in this section in mind.
- 3a. Parts of an Email
When using email, it’s helpful to know the components of the message:
Recipient: this is the person or people receiving the email. Most often, the sender writes the recipient email addresses in the “to” line of an email.
Subject: The subject line notes the content of the email. For instance, it may be “Questions About the Finance Project” or “Updates to Customer Service Procedures.”
CC/BCC: Senders sometimes add email addresses to the CC (carbon copy) and/or BCC (blind carbon copy) lines in an email. These individuals will also receive the email, but the email is not directly addressed to them. In other words, they are on the email to stay informed, but the information is generally for their own knowledge. Individuals who are CC’d are visible to all email recipients; individuals who are BCC’d are not visible to email recipients.
Text: This is the body of the email. It contains all of the information you want to share with the recipients.
Formatting: Below the text field, you will have options to format the text in your email. You can change fonts, font sizes, and styles, such as making some text bold, underlined, or italicized.
Attachments and options: Next to the formatting options, there are options to enhance your email. You can attach a document with the paperclip icon, link to a webpage with the sideways paperclip, add emojis with the smiley face, or send images saved from a Google drive with the triangle icon. These options vary by email providers.
- 3b. Subject of Email
The subject of an email is often the first thing that catches someone’s eye. Generally, subjects should be concise, professional, and to the point. If the email covers two subjects, you’ll likely want to send two separate emails. This helps as you and your recipients archive emails into folders. It is important to keep in mind some key dos and don’ts when it comes to email subject lines.
Consider the two subject lines below. Which is the better choice?
- All team meeting next week (Monday) at 8AM in the large conference room...you must attend
- All team meeting Monday-Important
The second option is the better choice. Many of the details in the first option should be included in the email itself...not in the subject line.
What if you needed to send an email to a co-worker asking them to meet with you next week about a project you are working on? What would be a good subject line for that email?
- 3c. Sending Email
When sending email, consider your goal - meaning, what information are you trying to convey, and what is the best way to convey this information? Depending on the information and the recipients, your email might be more professional, or somewhat casual. In professional settings, it can be appropriate to use more casual language, for instance, “That sounds good, thank you.” However, you’ll want to avoid slang and social media acronyms or abbreviations, such as “thx.” More importantly, you’ll want to avoid using any racist, sexist, or offensive content.
After writing your email, be sure to proofread it. You will almost always find a misspelling or grammatical error, or you will decide that there’s a better way to word your message. Pay close attention to wording, as you want to make sure there is not a negative “tone” or an opportunity for a misunderstanding. Email tone is conveyed through word choice, syntax, punctuation, letter case, sentence length, opening, closing, and other graphic indicators like emoticons.
Finally, don’t forget to include supplemental documentation. For instance, it’s very common for people to state that a document is attached in an email, but they forget to attach the document. One practice is that you can stop drafting your email once you state that a document is attached, attach the document, and then return to drafting. You should also catch these oversights in the proofreading process.
You received an email from a potential employer asking to set up an interview. From the email skills you learned in this unit, what methods would you implement in your email response?
- The individual(s) receiving to whom an email is addressed.
- A concise phrase summarizing notifying email recipients of message content.
- Recipients of an email who are not directly addressed; these individuals receive an email simply for their information.
- The message being conveyed in an email.
- Options to change the look of the text of email text.
- Attachments and options
- Buttons to add various options to an email, such as attachments, images, or emojis.
This lesson began with a focus on email basics. You also considered the importance of email and your digital identity. You want to carefully choose your email name as it matters in a professional setting. You learned that you need to take your time and decide if email is the right tool for the job. You can do this using the DPP. If you determine email is the best choice, you reviewed the need to be mindful of some email best practices. By understanding the parts of an email and what makes up a good subject of email, you are strengthening your technology skill. Lastly, you learned the importance of reviewing the message content before sending any email.
Best wishes as you move on to the next lesson!