Major Office Activities: Mail and Objectives, Handling, Receiving and Opening Mail, Recording, Sorting and Distribution

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Mail happens to be an important part of information handling. Hence, for everyone seeking employment in an office has to be fully conversant with the nature and type of mail and the process of handling it in terms of its receiving, sorting, marking, filing, indexing etc. including the use of machines and equipment. Various stages involved in handling the incoming and outgoing mail in an office, and its filing and indexing systems.


  • ‘Mail’ refers to the written communication that passes through the messenger service or the post office. Every business concern sends out and receives a large number of letters, notices, circulars, telegrams, memoranda reports, statements, pamphlets, inquiries, etc. Mail service ensures continuous interaction between insiders as well as between the organisation and outsiders. It helps the firm in establishing and maintaining contact with customers, suppliers, and others concerned.

  • In order to ensure prompt and efficient handling of mail, the mailing service should be planned and organised properly. Due to its importance and the vital role played in the organisation, mail should receive special attention and treatment. Handling of mail is, therefore, done by a specialised department named as ‘Mailing Department’. The nature of organisation of the mailing department depends on the size of the firm and the volume of mail to be handled. Mails consist of three main types-

    • Incoming,

    • Outgoing, and

    • Inter departmental.


After studying this lesson, you will be able to:



Handling Incoming Mail

Efficient handling of mail requires establishment of definite procedures involving step by step handling of mail. The incoming mail should be received and distributed with speed and accuracy. The exact method of handling inward mail differs from office to office. Handling of incoming mail generally consists of the following steps.

Handling of Incoming Mail

Handling of Incoming Mail

Receiving the Mail

The mail is delivered once or twice a day by the postman or by messenger. If a post box or post bag is hired, the mail is collected by an employee from post office once or twice a day. A clerk is assigned the work of receiving letters and issuing receipts or acknowledging receipt in peon/ messenger book.

Opening the Mail

Letters are opened by hand or by a letter-opening machine. The mail should be opened carefully to ensure safety of mail. It must also be seen that no papers are left inside the envelope. A responsible officer should supervise this process.

Scrutiny of Contents

The contents of the envelopes should be scrutinised to find out the purpose of the correspondence and the department concerned. If there are enclosures, they should be checked to verify that they are in order. Any discrepancy should be brought to the notice of the mail room supervisor specially when the enclosures are cheques, drafts, postal orders, etc.

Date Stamping

After opening the mail, each letter should be stamped with the date and time of its receipt. Stamping may be done with rubber stamp, by hand or with the help of dating, numbering and time recording machines. If necessary, the envelope must be pinned as evidence. The letter is marked to the concerned department and a circulation slip is also attached, if required.


  • The particulars of letters received are recorded in ‘Inwards Mail Register’ or ‘Letters Received Book’. It ensures that letters do not get lost or remain unattended. But it is time-consuming if the mail is large. In such a situation, a ‘Mail Room List’ of documents delivered in a batch to a particular department or individual is prepared.

  • Alternatively, ‘Mail Room Schedule’ indicating the department’s handling them is prepared, provided central filling is in operation.

Sorting and Distribution

Letters are sorted out in trays or baskets or pigeonhole cabinets and delivered to the respective departments. Receiving clerk signs, the list or register as an acknowledgement of receipt.

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