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    Productivity 4 min read

    The internet, coupled with the rise of smart phones, has defined communication for a generation of people.

    Where letters and phonecalls once took center stage, email now dominates, enabling instant, free communication between individuals anywhere on the planet. A recent survey found there are around 4.26 billion email users worldwide, with that number set to grow to 4.73 billion by 2026.

    If you don’t understand what’e meant by the phrase “email address”, it’s high time to learn.

    What is an email address?

    An email address is the identifier for an email account. It enables other users to find and send emails to you from their own accounts.

    You have exclusive access to messages sent to your address, because the account is secured by a password of your choosing. This means only you can access the messages sent there.

    Email address format explained

    Since the 1980s, all email addresses follow the same format. This format comprises two parts: the user name and the domain name, separated by @

    Here’s an example:

    [email protected]

    Email domain

    On the far right, the .com component represents the top level domain (TLD) for the address. It could also be replaced with .org, .edu, or another entity. Commonly-used TLDs include:

    • .com: Used by entities engaged in commerce
    • .org: Used by nonprofit organizations
    • .edu: Used by educational institutions
    • .net: Used by network providers
    • .gov: Used by governmental agencies

    The domain name is the specific name of the organization. This could be any name, but familiar ones include Google.com or Target.com. The combination of the organization name and TLD is the address entered into a browser to go to the organization’s website.

    Domain names can be commercial or personal. Popular email providers for business or personal use include Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft Outlook, and HubSpot. Businesses and websites can purchase custom email addresses for their domain through one of these options or through their website hosting provider.

    Email user name

    The first part of any email address is the user name, chosen when you set up the account. In this case, the user name is Jane Doe.

    The first part of the address is chosen by you, the user. The only limitation to your options is if someone else already owns an email address with the exact same name.

    To use the example above, there couldn’t be two [email protected] – they wouldn’t be distinguishable. In this case, the email provider would instruct you during set up to use an alternative user name. This ensures your address will be a unique digital identifier for your account only.

    In early email systems, a wide variety of non-internet address formats were used before the [email protected] form was instituted in the 1980s. The earliest addresses had to identify one user from another on one homogenous system, such as a minicomputer or mainframe. The address was typically the user’s login name on the system, such as 432654,6564 when using CompuServ, which was one of the largest online services that supported many types of electronic mail.

    How to create an email address

    To create an email address for receiving emails, you’ll first need to create an account with an email provider. This might include, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or Outlook.com.

    The email provider will often ask for your first and last name to create your unique email address. Typically, users will use their name in the email address, although this is not essential.

    Once your unique electronic mail address has been chosen, a corresponding account will be set up. To secure access to this account, you’ll create a password known only by you. Once that’s done, you’re all set.

    You can then provide your email address to anyone you want to correspond with. They will be able to send you messages privately via your address, and you’ll be able to respond.