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Outlook Express in the Classroom is produced by ACT360 Media Ltd.
in conjunction with Microsoft Corporation.
Copyright 1998. All rights reserved.

Is the standard e-mail a little too vanilla? Are you looking to add some ZING! to your messages? With Outlook Express, you can add a splash of Martian green and a dash of Sunny yellow to make your e-mail messages stand out from the pack.

Enabling HTML formatting
To add stationery backgrounds to your e-mail messages, you must first make sure your HTML formatting is enabled. Oh, don't let the acronym for HyperText Mark-up Language intimidate you. HTML is a simple code that Outlook Express uses to place backgrounds into your e-mail message. Here's how to enable HTML formatting:

    1. Click the Tools menu on the toolbar, then click Options. The Options dialog box will appear.

Use the Tools menu to open the Options dialog box

    2. Click the Send tab. Under "Mail sending format," select the option button next to HTML.

Select the option button to enable HTML formatting

    3. Click OK to close the Options dialog box.

Using pre-set stationery
Outlook Express has a variety of stationery backgrounds you can use to create eye-catching e-mail messages. These include holiday greetings, party invitations, and even one that offers the recipient some chicken soup?!! You earthlings are awful peculiar...

    1. Click the Compose menu, point to New Message using, then click Formal Announcement. A New Message window will open with the stationery background you selected.

Choose the stationery you want to use

    2. Type your message, then click the Send button to move your message to the Outbox.

For those special occasions.

Sender beware! If your e-mail recipients don't have HTML built into their e-mail programs, they might not be able to view your fancy stationery. Instead, they will receive the body of your message in text format and your colorful background as a separate graphic attachment.

How will you find out if they have HTML built into their e-mail programs? Try sending a trial message. Or, if the recipients are e-mail pros, ask them beforehand.

Zoomtastic! Are you ready to show the galaxy your creative side? With Outlook Express, you can design your own e-mail stationery using HTML-formatted text, background colors, and images. You can add the stationery to specific messages. Or, you can set it as the default stationery and use it every time you create a new message.

Creating your own e-mail stationery Right this way! Follow these steps to create your own astromatic, e-mail stationery. First you'll customize the font, then add a background image. Finally, you'll increase the indentation of the text area to make your messages really zing.

To customize the font:

    1. Click the Compose Message button to open a New Message window. Click the Format menu to see if Rich Text (HTML) is selected. You'll know it is selected if you see a black dot beside it. If there isn't one, click Rich Text (HTML).

Make sure a black dot appears next to Rich Text (HTML)

    2. Click the Format menu again, then click Font. The Font dialog box will open.

    3. In the Font box, select the font named "Verdana" (or choose another font if this one isn't available).

Use the selection boxes to specify font, style, and size

    4. In the Style box, select Bold Italic.

    5. In the Size box, select 14.

    6. Click OK to save the changes. The Font dialog box will close.

    7. In the new message window, try typing the word "Announcing". It should look something like this:

Your font will look like this

To add a background image to your stationery:

    1. Click the Format menu, point to Background, then click Picture. The Background Picture dialog box will open.

    2. In the File box, find and select the graphics file called tiki.gif.

Aren't these background names fun?

    3. Click OK. The Background Picture dialog box will close, and the image you selected is now added to your stationery.

background stationary

Uh-oh. Sometimes when you add a graphic, it overlaps the text and makes it difficult to read. A quick solution is to move the text area closer to the center.

To increase the indentation of the text:

    1. On the formatting toolbar, click the Increase Indentation button to move the text area closer to the middle of the page.

The formatting toolbar appears at the top of every new message window

Congratulations! Your stationery design is now complete. All that's left is typing the message and sending the whole thing off. You'd better hurry, though. I'm sure someone is anxious for their chicken soup.

Using your own stationery to compose new messages
Is there a stationery design you like so much that you want to use it all the time? Outlook Express lets you set a default stationery so you can add the same design to every message you create.

To set default stationery:

    1. In the Outlook Express window, click the Tools menu, then click Stationery. The Stationery dialog box will open.

    Get new stationery.

    2. Click the Mail tab.

Click the Mail tab

On the Mail page, you will customize the font for your default stationery.

    1. Select the option button next to "My compose font". Then click the Font Settings button. The Font dialog box will open.
These two steps will open the Font dialog box

    2. Enter your selections to customize the font, then click OK. The Font dialog box will close, and you will return to the Stationery dialog box.

You must also specify a background design for your default stationery.

    1. In the Stationery dialog box, click the option button next to "This stationery". Then click the Select button. A Select Stationery dialog box will appear.

Open the Stationery list to choose a background design

    2. Choose a background from the Stationery list (e.g. Chess). You can see miniature samples of the backgrounds in the Preview box.

    3. Click OK to close the Select Stationery dialog box.

    4. Click OK to close the Stationery dialog box.

Outlook Express will create your default stationery at light speed. Be sure to open a new message window to see how your design looks.

Note: If the Stationery background you select includes a special font, it will override the font you have selected.

Anyone who has visited more than seven thousand planets will tell you that first impressions are overrated. It's the last impression that counts.

Creating a signature
When sending e-mail messages, it is useful to attach a signature. A signature is a block of text at the end of a message which identifies you and tells the recipient how they can contact you. Your signature is the last thing people will see. So, when you sign off, do it in style!

Here's what my signature looks like. Clean and efficient, isn't it?

1 Lonely Terrace
Planet Globulus
Astrophone: 555-1212
Astrofax: 555-1313

To create your own signature:

    1. In the Outlook Express window, click the Tools menu, then click Stationery. The Stationery dialog box will open.

    2. Click the Mail tab, then click the Signature button. The Signature dialog box will open.

Click the Signature button

    3. Select the option button next to Text, then type your signature in the text box provided.
Double-check the information in your signature. You wouldn't want to give someone the wrong address or phone number.

    4. After you've created your signature, click OK to close the Signature dialog box, then click OK to close the Stationery dialog box.

Once you've created your own signature, you can add it to individual messages or to every new message you compose. It's up to you.

To add your signature to an individual message:

    1. Type your message. When you are finished, click the Insert menu, then click Signature. Your signature will appear at the end of your message.
Here's how to add your signature--on command!

Including a signature in all your messages
You can also tell Outlook Express to include your signature in every new message you compose.

    1. In the Outlook Express window, click the Tools menu, then click Stationery. The Stationery dialog box will open.

    2. Click the Signature button. The Signature dialog box will open.

    3. Select the check box next to "Add this signature to all outgoing messages".

Be sure to check-mark the box

    4. Click OK to close the Signature dialog box, then click OK to close the Stationery dialog box.

Your signature will be automatically added to all your new messages. Smile! Now everyone will know who you are!

Why would you want to attach a file to an e-mail message? Okay. Let's say for example, your cat gets sick as a dog. You can't possibly leave him home alone, but you've got to hand in that ten-page, technology proposal you typed in Microsoft Word. With Outlook Express, you don't have to re-type your proposal in an e-mail message. Simply attach your Word file to an e-mail message and send it to your district supervisor. Surely, she'll be impressed with your tech know-how.

Attaching files to your messages
All types of files can be attached to e-mail messages: Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, graphics, sound clips...there's no limit. Just make sure you know where the file is located on your computer, and you're ready.

    1. On the toolbar, click the Compose Message button to open a new message window.

    2. Type your message.

    3. Click the Insert menu, then click File Attachment (Or, click the File Attachment icon on the toolbar). The Insert Attachment dialog box will open.

There are two ways to attach a file

    4. In the Look in box, find the location of the file. Is it on your hard drive or a floppy disk?

    Now where did I put that file.

    5. In the File name box, type or select the name of the file, then click the Attach button. A file attachment icon will appear beneath your message.

Notice how the icon shows the size of the attached file

    6. Click the Send button to move your message and attachment to the Outbox.

Note: When sending a file attachment, it's important to know what programs the recipients have on their computers. If the file you send is created in a program that your recipients don't have, then they might not be able to open the file. Wouldn't that be a bummer of meteroric proportions?

Do you have friends so hip to the web that you feel prehistoric? These net hipsters will send you clips of Seinfeld re-runs faster than it takes to get from Venus to Mars at warp III. Grack! Never fear. Using Outlook Express, you'll be able to read, hear, and see everything they send to you.

Viewing an attachment in a message
How do you know when someone has attached a file to a message? Look for the paper clip icon next to the message title in your message list.

If a paper clip appears next to a message title, someone has sent you a file attachment

Here's how to open and read that file:

    1. In the Message list, double-click the message. The message window will open, and the attached file icon will appear beneath the message.

    2. To open the file, double-click the file attachment icon.

Double-click the file attachment icon to open it

Saving an attachment from an incoming message
Some attachments will probably be worth saving. Afterall, you never know when you'll want to watch Kramer slide into action. Isn't he a gaseous nebula?

To save an attached file for future reference:

    1. Click the File menu and select Save Attachments. Click the file name when it appears to the right of the menu. The Save Attachment As dialog box will open.

Saving an attachment is similar to saving any file to your computer

    2. In the Look in box, select a place to store the file; perhaps on your hard drive or a floppy disk.

Save your file in an easy to find location.

    3. Enter a name for the file in the File name box.

    4. Enter a file type in the Save as type box (for example: .doc, .txt, .htm). Click the Save button. The file is now saved for future use.

You can also save a file attachment directly from the message window without opening the file. Here's how:

    1. Position your mouse point over the file attachment icon at the bottom of the message window.

    2. Click your right mouse button. A pop-up menu will appear.

Right-click your mouse button on the icon to open the pop-up menu

    3. Click Save As in the pop-up menu. The Save Attachment As dialog box will open.

    4. Select a destination for the file and enter a file name and a file type. Then click the Save button. The file attachment is now saved to disk.

E-mail Projects for Your Class

If you have the instructions in Units 1 and 2 down pat, you now have enough e-mail skills to venture into cyberspace with your class. Besides instructing your students to send e-mail to one another, what else can you do? Read on, fearless leader!

Keypals and Collaborative Projects

E-mail is a wonderful way for your class to connect with students in another part of the country, or perhaps another part of the world. In addition to practicing their English writing skills, your students can learn, first-hand, the geography, culture, and language of their keypals.

You can take this keypal relationship one step further by working on a collaborative project. Is the cost of living in Beaumont, Texas higher or lower than Calgary, Alberta? Do potatoes grow faster in Idaho or Newfoundland? Teach your students how to find and present data for your area, then share it with your partnered class. As a grand finale, compare and contrast the results in a Web site for all the world to see.

There are several Web sites that serve as registries for classrooms interested in exchanging e-mail correspondence. ePals is one such site with nearly 6,000 registered classrooms worldwide. For collaborative projects, try Global SchoolNet Foundation's project registry.


Global SchoolNet Foundation

Expert Advice

As part of your class project on volcanoes, your students are going to interview a leading scientist who is currently observing the volcanic eruptions on Martinique. No, this is not a joke. Opportunities like this abound via e-mail because there is little cost involved in communicating with such specialists.

Mentor programs often include lists of mathematicians, scientists, historians and other professionals who have generously volunteered to assist with class projects. As a consideration to people who are donating their valuable time, compile an interesting list of questions and send it in one e-mail. This will save the mentor from sorting through 20 or 30 individual e-mail messages from your students.

For more information on mentor programs and how to search for a topic specialist, check out the Mentoring Center created by the National School Network.

Mentoring Center

Homework Assignments and Questions

If all your students have regular access to individual e-mail accounts (lucky them!), you might want to distribute homework assignments or bonus questions using e-mail. Perhaps your students can hand in their assignments the same way.

Some teachers even make their e-mail addresses available for homework questions. This, of course, takes a lot of extra time and energy on your part, so an initial trial run may be necessary to determine the volume of mail you will likely receive.

If you plan to use e-mail to distribute assignments and questions, here are some tips that will make things run more smoothly:

  1. Make sure your students are e-mail savvy. Before you send your first e-mail assignment, spend a few classroom lessons on e-mail basics.

  2. Let your students know the time and day that you will be sending the assignment so they know to check their mail.

  3. Be specific with your message subject title. For example:Science Question for Oct. 30th.

  4. Instruct your students to use the Reply to Sender button in Outlook Express so you can sort your mail using the subject title that you have specified.