How Not to Choose an Email Handle

Many email servers, such as Hotmail or Yahoo allow their members to create their own handles when they sign up for an account. This can allow for some creativity. Users don’t have to have an address that’s some form of However, I know from experience that being too creative in choosing an email handle is somewhat like being too creative in naming a child. It can cause embarrassment.

When I first started using email, I used it almost exclusively for mailing lists. These mailing lists discussed books or tv shows. The flow of messages meant I would use one email address strictly for one list. So, at the time, it seemed logical to create a handle using the name of my favorite character. It was The people I corresponded with would get the reference, and it was cute. Almost too cute. After I started using that email address for other purposes, I had to explain who this person was in my email. Or explain that it wasn’t my name in the address. Worse, my favorite character was a man. I’m a woman. That led to a lot of confusion as well, as I began to correspond on a regular basis.

Another email handle I chose came from one of my favorite characters in literature. Once again, my choice came because I originally intended the address to be used for messages from a related mailing list. This time, I didn’t do anything so boring as to just use the character’s name as my email handle. A fellow poster remarked on how obsessed I was with the character, so when I signed up for an email account to use exclusively for that list, my email handle contained part of the character’s name and a reference to my own fanaticism. Once again, I found myself using this email address for more than the original intent. This inivted the question of who the person was in my email handle and why I was obsessed with her.

Another email handle I chose also came from a character on a tv show. This time, my creative brain decided that my email handle would imply that I was the character’s sweetheart. I found this to cause the most embarrassment.

Now, you may wonder why it matters. Do people really care if your email handle is a bit on the creative side? Well, a lot of the time, no. But, there are definite times when a boring version of your name as an email handle is much more comfortable. Such as when you’re in college and the professor needs alternate email addresses to go along with the account the school provides. Maybe it’s just me, but I cringed to have to write out (obviously not a real email address) It can also be problematic when you want to send an email to someone official, such as emailing queries to publishers. You want to present yourself as professionally as possible, and some email handles just don’t help. Or, you might be asked for your email address from a family member who’s moving away. If your handle isn’t easily understood, you may be asked why you chose it. And, it may be embarrassing, especially if you know they’ll find your interests ridiculous.

So, I would say if you have multiple email addresses and can choose your own handles, have one address with a boring but professional sounding handle. This one can be used for those times when you want to present a mature face to the online world. And, you can still have fun handles for other correspondance.

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