Thing 14: Email

In this Thing you will learn how to manage, organise and work securely with email.

Open Badge information

Open Badge: SSSC 23 Things Digital – Thing 14: Email

Counts towards: SSSC 23 Things Digital – Digital Communicator


The extent to which email (electronic mail) plays a role in your day-to-day work depends on your organisation but also on your job role and how you manage your emails. Email is the primary method of online communication for many businesses and work. Although it has been around for a long time (early versions of email were used in the 1960s) many people don’t use and manage their email effectively.


a) Message header, Message body, Attachments

There are two parts to an email – the Message header and the Message body.

The Message header contains the following information, as well as other important data.

  • To: the email address(es) and usually the name(s) of the people receiving the email.
  • From: the email address (and usually the name) of the sender.
  • Cc: Carbon copy – email addresses who also receive the email for information but are not the primary recipients.
  • Bcc: Blind carbon copy – this is similar to ‘cc’, except that only the sender can see who has bcc-ed into an email. For example, you may want to send an email to multiple people but for data protection purposes, do not want everyone to have access to each other’s email addresses.
  • Subject line: This is used to inform recipients of the email about the subject matter.

The Message body of an email contains the text content that you want to send.

Attachments are files which you attach to an email. Typical attachments include Word documents, PDF documents, pictures, audio clips, video clips.

Always take care when opening attachments, especially if you don’t recognise the sender. You could compromise the security of your device and network by opening a dangerous file, which might contain a computer virus. At the very least you should run a virus-scan on attachments before opening them. Your work email usually does this automatically, but there are many free anti-virus programmes such as AVG Antivirus available to download to help protect your system.

b) Junk and spam

Junk email is usually email from a company whose services you have used in the past and as a result you are now on their mailing list.

Spam email tends to be unwanted emails where you usually have no link with the sender. Spam email is not only frustrating but can also be dangerous.

Don’t click any links or attached files, including opt-out or unsubscribe links. Spammers sometimes include these links to confirm that your email address is legitimate, or the links may trigger viruses. 

To help manage junk and spam, most email providers and applications offer a range of options. Use the links below to find information on how to keep your inbox free from junk and spam.

Microsoft Outlook/Outlook Express


Gmail/Google Mail

Apple Devices – Mac/iPad/iPhone

c) Organise your emails using folders

Using folders (Outlook), mailboxes (Apple Mail) and labels (Gmail), will help you organise your emails. You can move emails as they come into your inbox to the appropriate folder so they’re easy to find again.

A good rule of thumb is to have an empty inbox by the end of the day – that is you have dealt with or filed into the appropriate folder all the emails you received that day.

For example, you might set up folders for the following:

  • family
  • friends
  • work
  • college/university
  • SVQ
  • online shopping.

Some advocate a five-folder system. This involves organising your emails by deadlines rather than subject. Using this system means your emails would be organised as follows:

  • Inbox (newly arrived emails which haven’t been sorted yet)
  • Needs action today
  • Needs action this week
  • Needs action this month/quarter
  • FYI (for information).

It’s worth spending a bit of time thinking about how to organise your emails. It can save you a lot of time and frustration and help you feel in control.

NB Your employer may have its own rules regarding how work email should be organised, stored and archived, so you should make sure you are familiar with these.

Use the links below to find information on how to create folders in the mail application you use.

Microsoft Outlook/Live/Hotmail

Gmail/Google Mail

Apple Mail on a Mac

Apple Mail on an iPhone/iPad

d) Blog

Write a blog post of at least 100 words reflecting on the above activities and something you’ve learned in the process. Detail how you currently manage your emails and how effective you find this. Your blog should also outline how you could use the Bcc function.