E-mail messages are similar to letters, with two main parts: The header contains the name and e-mail address of the recipient, the name and e-mail address of anyone who is being copied, and the subject of the message. The body contains the message itself.
Most people sign their letters in written correspondence. With electronic messages, you can add a signature too, although it can be anything from a clever quote to some additional information about you.
When you talk to someone face-to-face, your body language, the tone of your voice, your inflections and facial expressions impart great meaning to what you say. Personalize your written communication by using a smiley or emoticon.
With the advent of an Internet protocol called MIME, Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension, and other types of encoding schemes, you can send formatted documents, photos, sound and video files as attachments to your e-mail messages.
Once e-mail becomes an essential part of your life, you'll want to check it often. With a Web-based e-mail account, you can do it from any computer connected to the Net (and many mobile devices) from anywhere on earth.
Each day billions of e-mail messages zap across the Internet. If it seems that most of them make their way to your Inbox, you're not alone. "Overwhelming" is how many people feel about this electronic communication.