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Are email addresses case sensitive?

By Stacy Kimbell

March 19, 2024

In today’s digitally connected society, emails play a vital role in everyday communication. Therefore, understanding email addresses is crucial. 

Are emails case sensitive? Do capital letters matter in email? These are common questions to ask if you want to understand the nuance of email addresses.

Email addresses may not be case sensitive. However, using symbols, and other practices can affect your email’s open rate and delivery. 

In this post, we’ll discuss the standards and best practices for creating safe email addresses.

Compliance with email address standards

To understand email case sensitivity, you need to know the essential elements of email addresses. General email standards help ensure the delivery of messages between different email clients and servers.  

Below are the major elements of an email address:

  • Username: Also known as the prefix. The username comes after the “@” symbol in the address. It is the name or alias of the person or brand, for example, John Doe. The username can include numbers, letters, and certain special characters.

The rule is that you can use a total of 64 characters, including Latin characters and any number from zero to nine. To include periods, you must add them within the username, but not at the start or the end of this name.

  • @: The ‘@’ symbol stays between the username and the domain. It converts the text to a valid email address. However, it must follow the username without a space between them.
  • Domain name: This is the email host. It can be your website or another email server, like Gmail. The domain name must include a period within the domain levels; for example, ‘gmail.com’ 

The domain name must exist to be valid. This means random domain names are invalid. The domain address must not exceed 255 characters.

Are emails case sensitive?

In short: NO. Email addresses aren’t case sensitive.

Let me explain.

Case sensitivity refers to the use of capital and lowercase letters and how email servers treat them. For example, a case-sensitive field would mean that ‘MaryJones’ would be seen as different from ‘maryjones’.

So, are emails case-sensitive? RFC 1035 states that the domain part of an email address and the username are not case-sensitive. Only outdated servers include two different mailboxes for different capitalization options. 

If you enter “maryjones@example.com ” or “MaryJones@example.com,” email services will treat the addresses as the same. Capitalization doesn’t affect an email’s ability to reach the recipient.

Special characters in an email address

Sometimes, you may need to add a special character or a number to your email address. An example is when another user has selected your preferred username.

It’s important to note that email providers only allow certain special characters in email addresses. For example, Google doesn’t allow using an underscore “_” in an email username while Yahoo allows it. 

Gmail and Yahoo don’t allow special characters, such as ! # % + / { } | &. However, they allow periods. 

These are the rules regarding using special characters: 

  • Periods are invalid as the first or last letter in a username. For example, ‘.johndoe@example.com or johndoe.@example.com’ are invalid
  • Two periods in a row are also invalid. For instance, ‘..johndoe@example.com’.
  • The length is restricted to 64 characters. 

The standards regarding special characters vary. However, you should be careful while using them. Excessive use of special characters can make your email appear fake to recipients. 

International symbols in an email address

In addition to special characters, international symbols are also something to consider. Generally, you can include characters from non-Latin alphabets. 

Many modern international providers allow symbols from other languages. To ensure computer software can process the symbols, these international providers use Unicode. 

This means you can add symbols or letters from Greek, Japanese, or the Chinese alphabet. 

According to the RFC 6530 protocol, the international symbols below are valid:

  • Latin alphabet with diacritics: e.g Johndoé@example.com
  • Japanese characters
  • Traditional Chinese
  • Greek alphabet letters
  • Cyrillic characters
  • Devanagari

Outdated email providers may not support international symbols. So, it’s important to confirm whether your provider uses Unicode. 

Best practices for creating email addresses

Keep your email address simple and professional, and be specific. These and other practices help you create a strong and professional email address. 

Here are the best practices for creating a strong email address:

  1. Keep it simple

Select a username that is short and simple. Recipients can easily remember a simple username and contact you. In addition, it’s best to limit the use of special characters or numbers. An email address filled with special characters or symbols might end up in a spam folder. Only use special characters when necessary. 

  1. Be professional

When using official email addresses, it is recommended to use either your full name or initials. If your name has already been chosen, add a period or hyphen to the username to make it stand out. 

For example, ‘John-doe@example.com’

  1. Use your domain

It’s good practice to use your web domain when creating a strong email address for a business. This makes your address appear more trustworthy and professional than general domains. Using your web domain also allows you to have numerous address options.

  1. Use lowercase and Latin characters

Modern email services aren’t case-sensitive. However, it’s advisable to use lowercase and Latin characters to guarantee your email will be compatible with all servers.  

  1. Be specific

Use a username that accurately describes the purpose of an email address. For example, sales@example.com. 

How do different email services handle capitalization?

Knowing how the various email services handle capitalization is crucial. It’s essential to the question, are emails case sensitive?

Are email addresses case sensitive? – Gmail

Gmail doesn’t follow case sensitivity when it comes to email usernames. The intended recipient will receive your email irrespective of capitalization. This is because email domain names aren’t case sensitive.

Regardless of the capitalization choice, the server will direct the email to the right domain. For example, ‘GMAIL.COM’ and ‘gmail.com’ will not be treated as different.

However, when sending emails across different servers, your capitalization choice might be visible to recipients. As a result, maintaining a consistent structure is preferable for a more professional appearance.

Other email providers like Yahoo Mail, Outlook, and Apple Mail don’t follow case sensitivity for email usernames and domain names.

Stacy Kimbell
Stacy Kimbell
Co-founder & Chief Editor
Stacy Kimbell has nine years of experience in email marketing. She's worked with different email platforms and created many successful email campaigns for online and offline, well-established as well as family businesses. Stacy is excited to share her expertise with readers.

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