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How do you spell "e-mail"?

by Mark Israel
 
     [This is a fast-access FAQ excerpt.]

In September 1995, Jeff Adams (jeffa@kurz-ai.com) did a search on
"a corpus of about 40 million words of Usenet news articles", and
counted the following forms:

    email      19371
    e-mail     15359
    E-mail      7572
    Email       5906
    E-MAIL      3659
    E-Mail      2986
    EMAIL       1269
    EMail        521
    eMail        303
    e-Mail        42
    eMAIL          5

and several other forms each rare enough to be probably "just dumb
typos".

    Total without hyphen:   27378
    Total with    hyphen:   29622

   Bob Cunningham searched articles posted to alt.usage.english
between mid-May and mid-September 1995, found 604 instances of
"e-mail" and 235 of "email".

   A 1995 poll of subscribers to the Copyediting-L mailing list
produced 60 votes for "e-mail" and 24 votes for "email".

   In favour of "e-mail", it has been argued that there are
analogous nonce compounds in "e-" (e.g, "e-vote", "e-boyfriend");
that the hyphen is a clue that the word is stressed on the first
syllable; and that email is French for "enamel".  In favour of
"email", it has been argued that this is the spelling used in the
Jargon File, and that there has been a general trend away from
hyphenating words once they become established.  Many dictionaries
favour "E-mail", which can be justified by analogy with such forms
as "A-bomb", "C-section", and "G-string".

     [See more statistics for numbers of people using the
     spellings 'e-mail' and 'email'.]