3 Parts of an Email Address

By Shailynn Krow

The email name you choose can say a lot about you.
i Jason Reed/Photodisc/Getty Images

You might not think much of it, but when you send someone an email, you’re composing a code that only Internet servers respond to. A typical email address consists of three components, and all three are equally important -- that is, if you want your message to be received by the right person. If a component is missing, you will either receive an error message or send the email to an unintended party instead.


The first part of an email address is the username. This is the unique name that you or your ISP select. This can be your real name or a nickname. Businesses may use themed usernames or their company’s legal name. The username must be unique -- no two people or organizations can have the same username with the same provider -- so your provider must first verify that no one else is using it before it allows you to use it.

@ Symbol

An “at,” or “@,” symbol is the second part of an email address. This fits in between the username and the domain of your email address. When you insert the symbol, your email program recognizes the character and sends the email to the domain name that follows it.


The last part of an email address is the domain, which can be broken down into two portions: the mail server and the top-level domain. The mail server is the server hosting the email account. For example, Yahoo email accounts use “yahoo” as the server name, while Gmail uses “Gmail” as the server name. The top-level domain is the extension, such as .com, .net or .info. Emails from educational institutions often have the .edu extension, while employees of a government agency use a .gov extension.


When you sign up for an email account, whether its free or paid, you’re prompted first to select a username. Consider your username carefully, especially if you plan on using your email account to send professional emails. While a funny nickname or even a catch phrase is unique, it may not be appropriate to future employers when you email a resume. If you’re a business professional, having your own domain name is more professional than using a free email service like Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo.