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25.1 The Format of the Mail Buffer

In addition to the text or contents, a message has header fields, which say who sent it, when, to whom, why, and so on. Some header fields, such as the date and sender, are created automatically after the message is sent. Others, such as the recipient names, must be specified by you in order to send the message properly.

Mail mode provides a few commands to help you edit some header fields, and some are preinitialized in the buffer automatically at times. You can insert or edit any header fields using ordinary editing commands.

The line in the buffer that says:

--text follows this line--

is a special delimiter that separates the headers you have specified from the text. Whatever follows this line is the text of the message; the headers precede it. The delimiter line itself does not appear in the message actually sent. The text used for the delimiter line is controlled by the variable mail-header-separator.

Here is an example of what the headers and text in the ‘*mail*’ buffer might look like.

To: rms@mc
CC: mly@mc, rg@oz
Subject: The XEmacs User's Manual
--Text follows this line--
Please ignore this message.