Email is probably the most prevalent, ubiquitous form of communication in many businesses today. But it is important to see email as the vehicle by which it is delivered, and not the type of communication it is. Business conventions should still be observed, and slang, shorthand and emoticons should be avoided.

You can incorporate the advice given for each type of document in this module into an email. You will need to consider some additional issues such as formatting, font etc.

It is not usual to securely sign emails and there is the chance the content can easily be altered electronically. Emails can be forwarded easily, and so issues of confidentiality of content, and recipients email addresses are important considerations with emails

Digital signature

It is possible to produce a digital signature and add it to emailed documents. Obviously it is crucial that the access to the digital signature is protected carefully. Some organisations will accept this in the same way as a signed document, others will not.

A Digital signature is the digital equivalent of a handwritten signature or seal or stamp. It uses a digital code which is generated and authenticated by public key encryption. It can be added to documents which are electronically transmitted to authenticate their contents and the sender’s identity. Some countries including the USA, assign the same legal significance to such documents as they do to traditionally signed documents

Digital signatures are also known as Digital ID, or e-signature. There are many solutions that offer digital signatures, including Microsoft and Adobe.

Google or search the internet for the terms Digital signature, Digital ID, and e-signature to get the latest information and most appropriate solution for you.

Selecting how to add recipients to your emails

When you are composing an email, there are several ways of adding recipients. You can add them in the “To” field or select “CC “or “BCC”. What are the implications of selecting these different options?

If you add them in the “to “field, recipients are visible to everyone, together with their email address.

The same applies to people who receive a CC (courtesy copy). The reason you would select this option is because the person is not directly affected by the email, is not required to do anything, but out of courtesy you are advising them of the contents of the email. For example, if it concerns a member of their team, you may want to advise them that, for example, they are attending a meeting, have been included in a project, or are being asked to help or advice. So it is a way of efficiently making sure people are informed, but they understand it is for information only and they are not normally expected to do anything.

People who receive a BCC (blind courtesy copy) are not visible to others. This is useful if you are sending an email to many recipients who do not know each other and you do not want to disclose everyone’s email address to everyone else. Perhaps you are emailing a database of clients or prospective clients and you do not want their email addresses to be shared with each other. Or you may be emailing a list of candidates for a position, so you do not want them to know the each other’s identities.

Protecting your document

If it is important that a document cannot be altered, then you might want to consider some way of restricting and protecting the document which ensures you are the only person who can alter it and it cannot be tampered with.

You can also do this by making it into a PDF attachment to your email, Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format used to present and exchange documents. It is widely used in business to share important business documents.