Business correspondence is done both on paper and electronically. Since both forms can be saved, copied, and forwarded, they have cer­tain features in common. They also have differences in the appropriate­ness of their use.

Using E-Mail

There are few innovations that compare to e-mail in both its popularity as a form of written communication and its convenience. Within sec­onds of sending a message, it appears in the electronic mailbox of its recipient. It enables the sender to avoid the often annoying experiences that accompany voice mail systems and/or protective receptionists who run interference for their employers. However, there are several precau­tions to be remembered when using electronic mail in business. First, it is seldom a suitable substitute for a written letter if and when that letter is contracting or obligating the business. Second, the immediacy of its impact depends on how often the recipient checks for new messages. Third, because it is electronic, the message can be forwarded almost anywhere in the world without the knowledge of the original writer. Finally, the impersonal nature of electronics devalues the sincerity of certain types of messages in the minds of some people. As examples, if the recipient of the e-mail message receives an overload of junk mail messages, he or she may not recognize the importance of one sent by a company in need of a timely reply and does not open it to read. Also, if the sender says something critical of another person or company, the recipient could forward the message, with its accompanying potential harm, to that person or company. Also, e-mail should never be used for thank you notes or messages that have an emotional tone, such as con­gratulatory or sympathy notes. Those necessitate a handwritten note sent through the U. S. Postal Service. Some of the niceties of life and business must retain the human touch.