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Basic Email Tips For Beginners

Updated on August 16, 2010

Everyone just assumes that the world is email savvy, but that is not necessarily the case. It's a good idea to cover the basics for the individuals who still haven't mastered the email arts.

When you send an email, you can assume that your e-mail message has been delivered unless you get a bounced mail message in return. If any e-mail doesn't reach the recipient, it is returned to the sender as undeliverable mail. This is a bounced e-mail message. In the header of the returned message, the reason of failure is cited. The most common error messages are:

1) User unknown
What it usually means: Incorrect address in the username portion of the address.
What to do: Make sure you have correctly specified portion of the address before the "@"

2) Host unknown
What it usually means: Incorrect address in the domain or top-domain portions of the address.
What to do: Make sure you have correctly specified portion of the address after the "@"

3) Network unreachable
What it usually means: Gateway limitations or problems with the network backbone.
What to do: Recheck e-mail address, retry at another time.

4) Connection timed out
What it usually means: Software problem communicating with the destination mail server.
What to do: Check connection to your host, verify e-mail configuration.

5) Connection refused
What it usually means: Problem with the destination mail server.
What to do: Contact administrator of the destination mail server.

E-mail Etiquette

Never put anything in e-mail that you wouldn't want to become public knowledge. You can't trust e-mail's security and therefore you shouldn't use it when security is an issue.

Make sure that your e-mail message isn't abusive, harassing, threatening, or bigoted. A good rule to follow is if a recipient complains about the e-mail you are sending, STOP. E-mail can be traced to its originating machine. If there are complaints about your behavior you could lose your account or even your freedom.

Do not send "junk" e-mail. This is very poor netiquette and your account may be terminated for this offense. If someone didn't ask for the information that you have, don't send it.

Be careful how you word your messages. When you discuss things with someone in person, that person can judge what you are saying by your body language and facial expressions. With e-mail you don't have these visual cues and thus your message could be misunderstood. This is why smileys came into being :-).

Use mixed case. If you use all upper case it sounds harsh, like shouting. USE UPPERCASE FOR EMPHASIS ONLY!

Read your message before you send it and decide if you'll regret it in the morning. Always remember once you send it, you can't get it back.

E-mail is easily forwarded to someone else. Although this is convenient, it is not always appropriate. If you are unsure, ask the sender before you forward a message.

E-mail replies may go to more people than you realize. When replying to a message, be sure to look at the list of recipients.

E-mail takes up computer space, so delete messages you no longer need.

If you only read a few messages a day you will probably remember them for a few days. but people who receive dozens of messages need reminders. Use the forward message option and include the relevant portions of the text to help clue them in to the context of previous messages.


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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      Definitely. Spamming is a huge problem. But many of the majors like hotmail and gmail have massive anti-spam functions integrated right into them, so it's not as big a problem as it could be.

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 7 years ago from Cape Town

      How to block spammers is a useful skill for email novices to learn