Including Files

On occasions you may want to send someone a file you are working on, such as a longer document you are creating in your word processor and are continually editing and saving to disk, or perhaps a spreadsheet or graphic file. There are two ways of including a file in an email message.

First, including files created in your word processor in your email message can be easily done by just opening your email application and your word processor and cutting and pasting from your word processor to the body of the message you are sending. However, the stanard for email is restricted to ASCII TEXT FORMAT so most of the formatting in your document, such as underlining, bolding, centering, and fonts will not be carried over. Only the text will be copied. In the majority of cases sending just the text is sufficient for what you will want to send via email. Now days many mailreaders allow you to send HTML formatting in email messages, however not all do and in most you can turn this functionality off. In order to stay compatible with everyone you send email to, you should try to avoid including anything other than ascii text.

Second, in some instances though, you may want to include a file with formatting, either because you do not want to lose the special formatting, or because it cannot be saved as text because graphics are included. Normally wordprocessed files are saved as binary files, which allows the formatting codes to be preserved. Many mail programs now support, MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension) encoding. This allows you to include a binary file with the message. However, you must be sure that the person at the other end has a MIME capable mail program which will enable him/her to restore the file to its original form.

Many types of files, including graphics, can be sent in binary form. However, the person to whom the file is sent must have a software program that can then read the binary file after it is received. For instance, if you send a graphics file to someone, they must have a graphics viewer application on their computer that is capable of reading the type of file format you sent them. There are many graphic formats such as GIF, JPG, TIFF, and BMP, so just because they have a viewer does not necessarily mean they will be able to use the image you sent them. The same thing applies for spreadsheets and other types of applications. If you use MicroSoft Excel to create your spreadsheet the other person will not be able to look at the file unless they also have Excel or unless they have a spreadsheet program that can translate the file from Excel format to its own format.

If sending a binary file does not work, you can explore the possibility of transferring the file using FTP. (See Lesson Six.)