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 email 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 email message, then it’s attached. If you paste it into the message, you might say it’s enclosed or included or pasted below.