Line length

Roy Smith roy at
Wed Jun 12 09:12:00 EST 1991

IAE at CU.NIH.GOV ("Irene Anne Eckstrand") writes:
> Attached (and slightly edited) are some comments made by Dan
> Wheeler about constructing messages for electronic communications.

	Dan gave a lot of good suggestions, but I'd like to add a few
things of my own, specifically having to do with follow-up messages or
replies.  There is a convention that has grown up regarding quoting the
text of a message you are replying to, which is to start each line of
quoted material with "> ", like I did above.  Many software packages do
this automatically.

	It's important to quote enough text so that a reader can put your
response in the proper context.  I can't tell you how many pieces of email
I've gotten which just said "Yes" and I don't have a clue what the person
is talking about.  People would never dream of sending somebody a paper
letter or memo that just said "Yes", so I don't understand why they do it
with email.

	On the other hand, you don't have to include the entire message,
just the relevant parts.  With the particular software package and medium
I'm using (i.e. rn and usenet), Irene's message was assigned a unique
"Message ID" when she sent it; that ID is shown in the "References:"
header of this message; if anybody wanted to find out more about what Irene
said, they should be able to look up the entire text of her article using
that ID, just like they would with a reference in an article in a paper
Roy Smith, Public Health Research Institute
455 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016
roy at -OR- {att,cmcl2,rutgers,hombre}!phri!roy
"Arcane?  Did you say arcane?  It wouldn't be Unix if it wasn't arcane!"

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