Usage and Grammar

Q. I work as an editor for a law firm in Taiwan and was asked whether there is a difference between “attachment” and “enclosure” at work today. One camp is saying that something that is sent along with an e-mail can only be called an “attachment,” and something sent along with a traditional letter or a fax can only be referred to as an “enclosure”; meanwhile, another camp makes no distinction between “attachment” and “enclosure,” or for that matter, “to attach” and “to enclose.”

A. This seems like a lot of heavy weather over a fairly simple question. If the document you are sending with a letter is attached with a paper clip or staple or chewing gum or whatever, then it’s attached. If it’s not attached, then it’s probably enclosed. If you attach something electronically to an e-mail message, then it’s attached. If you paste it into the message, you might say it’s enclosed or included or pasted below.