My business emails of late have all contained '@Carol' when I am referred to in a string of emails/topic. What does this mean and how am I to refer to this in future?
Below is taken from Wikipedia and answers your question, especially the first paragraph.
On some online forums without threaded discussions, @ is used to denote a reply; for instance: "@Jane" to respond to a comment Jane made earlier. Similarly, in some cases, @ is used for "attention" in email messages originally sent to someone else. For example, if an email was sent from Catherine to Steve, but in the body of the email, Catherine wants to make Keirsten aware of something, Catherine will start the line "@Keirsten" to indicate to Keirsten that the following sentence concerns her. This also helps with mobile email users who cannot see bold or color in email.
In microblogging (such as Twitter and StatusNet-based microblogs), @ before the user name is used to send publicly readable replies (e.g. "@otheruser: Message text here"). The blog and client software can automatically interpret these as links to the user in question. When included as part of a person's or company's contact details, an @ symbol followed by a name is normally understood to refer to a Twitter ID. A similar use of the @ symbol was also made available to Facebook users on September 15, 2009. In Internet Relay Chat (IRC), it is shown before users' nicks to denote they have operator status on a channel.
@ means "at", as in "[this part of my email is directed] at Carol".
In the past, this usage was fairly rare outside of the world of IRC and whatnot, but the spread of Twitter (which uses a
@ prefixed to a username to implement user notifications) has seemingly resulted in an increase of such usage in other spheres, such as the business environment.
The author is attempting to indicate that they are now talking to you in that particular part of the email. It's pretty redundant, technically speaking, but there you go.
It's almost identical to the use of @User in the comments here: The text (email/SE comment) is for general consumption, but there is a point which is of particular importance to a particular user.
Note minor differences:
- In email there's also a "To" field restricting the audience, unlike here.
- Here, there's no option to send a private (out-of-band) message, so sometimes an @-addressed comment is only of interest to the addressee.
I haven't used this approach in email bodies myself, but it seems self-explanatory. When writing an email I would be more likely to address a particular reader as if I was restarting the email:
Hi all, The delivery should arrive tomorrow, don't panic. Bob, would you mind keeping an eye out for it, I'm off site. Thanks C
Where I've used "Bob", "@Bob" woudl be the sort of thing you've seen.