When to send files (and when not to)
Many email systems allow you to attach files to your email notes. This is a handy feature for the sender, but under some circumstances, a pain in the neck for the receiver, especially if he doesn't have the right tools to access the file. Even under the best circumstances, reading an email note, then saving and opening a file takes significantly longer than just reading an email note. So you should never send a file when a simple note would do.
An example: Occasionally, I used to receive email notes saying only "see attachment." The attachment would invariably turn out to be the word processing file for a paper memo announcing a meeting. It would have been a lot easier for me -- and everyone else who received the file -- if the relevant information had simply been copied into the email note itself. And copying that information into the note would hardly have taken the sender any longer than sending the file.
On the other hand, the ability to transmit files is a godsend when your file contains important formatting (boldface, italics, et cetera) or other non-text information (a spreadsheet, for example). That's because many email systems allow only ASCII text in their notes, but attached files can contain any kind of information. You can also send a file that's too long to paste into an email note.
All these situations are most likely to arise when both you and your correspondent are working with the files in question. For example, I sent Netiquette to my publisher in the form of files rather than email notes because (1) it contained important formatting information and (2) it was long.
When you send a file, it's important to make sure that your correspondent has the application software necessary to open the file. If you're
"uuencoding" your file (an Internet standard), make sure your recipient
can "uudecode" it. And check whether her version of the software is
older than yours. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to open
up, say, a PageMaker file, and discovering that your correspondent has