The domain system defines a standard for mapping mailboxes into domain names, and two methods for using the mailbox information to derive mail routing information. The first method is called mail exchange binding and the other method is mailbox binding. The mailbox encoding standard and mail exchange binding are part of the DNS official protocol, and are the recommended method for mail routing in the Internet. Mailbox binding is an experimental feature which is still under development and subject to change.
The mailbox encoding standard assumes a mailbox name of the form "<local-part>@<mail-domain>". While the syntax allowed in each of these sections varies substantially between the various mail internets, the preferred syntax for the ARPA Internet is given in [RFC-822].
The DNS encodes the <local-part> as a single label, and encodes the <mail-domain> as a domain name. The single label from the <local-part> is prefaced to the domain name from <mail-domain> to form the domain name corresponding to the mailbox. Thus the mailbox HOSTMASTER@SRI- NIC.ARPA is mapped into the domain name HOSTMASTER.SRI-NIC.ARPA. If the <local-part> contains dots or other special characters, its representation in a master file will require the use of backslash quoting to ensure that the domain name is properly encoded. For example, the mailbox Action.domains@ISI.EDU would be represented as Action\.domains.ISI.EDU.