Email features to look at for description and analysis

To describe and analyze, start with a set of terms to look with and a set of features to look at. Here is a short list to practice with and develop further.
Select elements that seem to apply: not all will apply in every case. You may also add elements that aren't listed that apply in the case you're looking at.
the rhetorical situation

Consider the situational constraints of composing this email and of reading this email and the extent to which the writer's rhetorical choices may be influenced by the situation.
the need to compose and respond quickly - or not
distractions
multitasking
limitations of the screen and email software: plain text? spell checker? etc.
writer's relationship with the reader
consider whether the message is written in response to another message, or string of messages (Re: <the subject>)
...
header elements

subject:
cc:
bcc:
features of the genre

forms of address: salutations
signatures and other sign offs
lexicon

look at the kinds of words used, the changes in words and how they are used.
level of formality of the vocabulary
technical language, jargon
abbreviations and short forms: IMO, THX etc.
use of formal (yes, Dear Sir...) and informal forms (yep, nope, gonna...)
sentences

look at the kinds: simple, compound, complex-compound
refer to BasicSentencePatterns
active, passive
sentence length, and changes in length from your sense of the norm
use of punctuation

use of it, lack of it, variations in use from other writing situations
use of colon, dash, semi-colon, ... not just absence or presence of these, but how they are used, and used to do what.
degree of editing

infelicities, errors, and slips in phrasings, omissions, etc.
these may be markers of the degree of editing and sender's attitude towards editing and reader. nonchalant. careful.
paralinguistic cues

smileys
ways of signaling intent other than tone.
length of message

Because it's just as cheap to be long as short, the length of the message is not constrained by the technology. cf txt message at 160 chars. cf early days of email, when screen size was an issue.
how long is the message. by sentence, by word count, by paragraph count
embedded material

One feature of email is the use of embedded material from the Reply function.
what's embedded from the source message?
how is it used
paragraphs

paragraph length
variation in length
how paragraphs are organized internally: using topic sentences? from general to specific? chronological?
overall organization/arrangement of the message

chronological? inferential? category? others?
organization indicators: paragraphs, lists, indented text...
use of headings, lists, tables

if these are used, and with what kind of information
images

images used, kinds, in conjunction with what
typing adaptations for the email form

if the message is plain text, look to how the writer handles emphasis, quoting, etc.
use of ALL CAPS
use of rhetorical figures

What figures are used
metaphor
simile
metonomy
isocolon
...
compiled from Crystal, Baron, Maynor


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