Email Basics

What is e-mail?

"E-mail" is short for "electronic mail." Email is one way that people are able to communicate through the Internet, by sending and receiving messages to each other. (The messages are similar in format to written memos.) Your email address is a unique address, because there are no duplicate email addresses.

E-mail addresses look something like this:

They must have an @ symbol in the middle. It is possible for an e-mail address to have numbers, periods, commas, underscores, or hyphens (even before the @ symbol).

The first part (in this example, jsmith) is usually some variation of a real name, a nickname, or some variation of a company or organization name. The second part,, identifies the computer that "serves" that e-mail account. The entire email address is unique to a particular person.

Is there a charge for e-mail?

An e-mail account is usually a free add-on that comes with an internet access account, (which are usually not free). Also, many employers provide e-mail accounts. And people with web access can get free e-mail accounts with a web-based provider. ("Web-based" means that the e-mail account is accessed from a website, rather than from software resident on the PC's hard drive.) Library customers can use Library PCs for this purpose.

Where can I learn more about free e-mail?

Is there e-mail etiquette I should know?