Currently, there are multiple approaches for providing a more assisted, dynamic and interactive email experience to end users. Unfortunately, different vendors mostly support different approaches at this time.

Given that email originally is a decentralized technology, shaped by open standards, we launched an initiative within the IETF to work on a set of standard specifications.

Hence, formal standards are currently under development, as discussed further on this page.

To use existing best practices, see the getting started section.

Draft charter

A proposal for a Working Group charter has been submitted for discussion on the SML mailing list. See https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/sml/_uWIum9SwACTGRdwUCss0dRfBSI/.

Issues to address

Suggested issues to address include:

  • How machine-readable content relates to the text-based version of content (partial vs. full representation)
  • Which RDF encoding to use in which part of email messages (e.g., JSON-LD)
  • The usage and sharing of RDF vocabulary for actual annotation (e.g., Schema.org)
  • Extensions that enable client-side tools to efficiently determine if machine-readable annotations are present (e.g., header fields or flags)
  • Security and trust recommendations to prevent abuse of structured email (see also Schema.org)

Future work

The scope of the suggested charter is narrow by design. Once initial work has been finished, further topics might be addressed by a re-chartering. These could include:

  • Mechanisms to describe and discover structured data types supported by a recipient
  • Standard ways to link structured email data with information from external sources
  • tbc.


Some of the documents have an intentionally broader scope than the draft charter.


Please subscribe to https://www.ietf.org/mailman/listinfo/sml to join the ongoing discussing on evolving and standardizing structured email.