The Internet email message format is now defined by RFC 5322, with multi-media content attachments being defined in RFC 2045 through RFC 2049, collectively called Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions or MIME. RFC 5322 replaced the earlier RFC 2822 in 2008, and in turn RFC 2822 in 2001 replaced RFC 822 – which had been the standard for Internet email for nearly 20 years. Published in 1982, RFC 822 was based on the earlier RFC 733 for the ARPANET.
Internet email messages consist of two major sections:
- Header – Structured into fields such as From, To, CC, Subject, Date, and other information about the email.
- Body – The basic content, as unstructured text; sometimes containing a signature block at the end. This is exactly the same as the body of a regular letter.
The header is separated from the body by a blank line.
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