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New MIME draft -- part one

1995-04-03 18:32:38
Here is an updated version of the MIME specification. This version reflects a
major technical change: In response to IESG concerns about document size and
flexibility, the MIME specification has been broken up into five documents:

(1) Internet message bodies.
(2) Media types.
(3) Conformance and examples.
(4) Character sets in headers.
(5) Registration procedures.

This message contains part one of the updated specification.

Note for Internet-Drafts: The file name used here reflects the working group
that developed this specification, ietf-822. This group is no longer active.
I don't know whether or not it is appropriate to change the group to mailext.
If so, please do so and let me know so I can update the documents accordingly.


Network Working Group                     Nathaniel Borenstein
Internet Draft                                       Ned Freed

            Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions
                       (MIME) Part One:

              Format of Internet Message Bodies

                        April 2, 1995

                     Status of this Memo

This document is an Internet-Draft.  Internet-Drafts are
working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF), its areas, and its working groups. Note that other
groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six
months. Internet-Drafts may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted
by other documents at any time.  It is not appropriate to use
Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite them other
than as a "working draft" or "work in progress".

To learn the current status of any Internet-Draft, please
check the 1id-abstracts.txt listing contained in the
Internet-Drafts Shadow Directories on (US East
Coast), (Europe), (US West Coast),
or (Pacific Rim).

1.  Abstract

STD 11, RFC 822, defines a message representation protocol
specifying considerable detail about US-ASCII message headers,
and leaves the message content, or message body, as flat US-
ASCII text.  This set of documents, collectively called the
Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, or MIME, redefines the
format of messages to allow for


Internet Draft     Internet Message Bodies          April 1995

 (1)   textual message bodies in character sets other than

 (2)   non-textual message bodies,

 (3)   multi-part message bodies, and

 (4)   textual header information in character sets other than

These documents are based on earlier work documented in RFC
934, STD 11, and RFC 1049, but extends and revises them.
Because RFC 822 said so little about message bodies, these
documents are largely orthogonal to (rather than a revision
of) RFC 822.

In particular, these documents are designed to provide
facilities to include multiple parts in a single message, to
represent body and header text in character sets other than
US-ASCII, to represent formatted multi-font text messages, to
represent non-textual material such as images and audio
fragments, and generally to facilitate later extensions
defining new types of Internet mail for use by cooperating
mail agents.

This initial document specifies the various headers used to
describe the structure of MIME messages. The second document,
RFC MIME-IMT, defines the general structure of the MIME media
typing system and defines an initial set of media types. The
third document, RFC MIME-CONF, describes MIME conformance
criteria as well as providing some illustrative examples of
MIME message formats. The fourth document, RFC MIME-HEADERS,
describes extensions to RFC 822 to allow non-US-ASCII text
data in Internet mail header fields. The fifth and final
document, RFC MIME-REG, specifies various IANA registration
procedures for MIME-related entities.

These documents are revisions of RFCs 1521 and 1522, which
themselves were revisions of RFCs 1341 and 1342.  An appendix
in RFC MIME-CONF describes differences and changes from
previous versions.

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2.  Table of Contents

1 Abstract ..............................................    1
2 Table of Contents .....................................    3
3 Introduction ..........................................    4
4 Notations, Conventions, and Generic BNF Grammar .......    6
4.1 CRLF ................................................    7
4.2 Character Set .......................................    7
4.3 Message .............................................    7
4.4 Body Part ...........................................    8
4.5 Entity ..............................................    8
4.6 Body ................................................    8
4.7 7bit Data ...........................................    8
4.8 8bit Data ...........................................    8
4.9 Binary Data .........................................    9
4.10 Lines ..............................................    9
5 MIME Header Fields ....................................    9
6 MIME-Version Header Field .............................   10
7 Content-Type Header Field .............................   12
7.1 Syntax of the Content-Type Header Field .............   14
7.2 Content-Type Defaults ...............................   16
8 Content-Transfer-Encoding Header Field ................   16
8.1 Content-Transfer-Encoding Syntax ....................   17
8.2 Content-Transfer-Encodings Sematics .................   17
8.3 New Content-Transfer-Encodings ......................   18
8.4 Interpretation and Use ..............................   19
8.5 Quoted-Printable Content-Transfer-Encoding ..........   21
8.6 Base64 Content-Transfer-Encoding ....................   25
9 Content-ID Header Field ...............................   28
10 Content-Description Header Field .....................   29
11 Additional MIME Header Fields ........................   29
12 Summary ..............................................   29
13 Security Considerations ..............................   30
14 Authors' Addresses ...................................   31
15 Acknowledgements .....................................   32
A Collected Grammar .....................................   34

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3.  Introduction

Since its publication in 1982, RFC 822 [RFC-822] has defined
the standard format of textual mail messages on the Internet.
Its success has been such that the RFC 822 format has been
adopted, wholly or partially, well beyond the confines of the
Internet and the Internet SMTP transport defined by RFC 821
[RFC-821].  As the format has seen wider use, a number of
limitations have proven increasingly restrictive for the user

RFC 822 was intended to specify a format for text messages.
As such, non-text messages, such as multimedia messages that
might include audio or images, are simply not mentioned.  Even
in the case of text, however, RFC 822 is inadequate for the
needs of mail users whose languages require the use of
character sets richer than US-ASCII.  Since RFC 822 does not
specify mechanisms for mail containing audio, video, Asian
language text, or even text in most European languages,
additional specifications are needed.

One of the notable limitations of RFC 821/822 based mail
systems is the fact that they limit the contents of electronic
mail messages to relatively short lines (e.g. 1000 characters
or less [RFC821]) of 7-bit US-ASCII.  This forces users to
convert any non-textual data that they may wish to send into
seven-bit bytes representable as printable US-ASCII characters
before invoking a local mail UA (User Agent, a program with
which human users send and receive mail). Examples of such
encodings currently used in the Internet include pure
hexadecimal, uuencode, the 3-in-4 base 64 scheme specified in
RFC 1421, the Andrew Toolkit Representation [ATK], and many

The limitations of RFC 822 mail become even more apparent as
gateways are designed to allow for the exchange of mail
messages between RFC 822 hosts and X.400 hosts.  X.400 [X400]
specifies mechanisms for the inclusion of non-textual body
parts within electronic mail messages.  The current standards
for the mapping of X.400 messages to RFC 822 messages specify
either that X.400 non-textual body parts must be converted to
(not encoded in) IA5Text format, or that they must be
discarded, notifying the RFC 822 user that discarding has
occurred.  This is clearly undesirable, as information that a
user may wish to receive is lost.  Even though a user agent

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may not have the capability of dealing with the non-textual
body part, the user might have some mechanism external to the
UA that can extract useful information from the body part.
Moreover, it does not allow for the fact that the message may
eventually be gatewayed back into an X.400 message handling
system (i.e., the X.400 message is "tunneled" through Internet
mail), where the non-textual information would definitely
become useful again.

This document describes several mechanisms that combine to
solve most of these problems without introducing any serious
incompatibilities with the existing world of RFC 822 mail.  In
particular, it describes:

 (1)   A MIME-Version header field, which uses a version
       number to declare a message to be conformant with this
       specification and allows mail processing agents to
       distinguish between such messages and those generated
       by older or non-conformant software, which are presumed
       to lack such a field.

 (2)   A Content-Type header field, generalized from RFC 1049
       [RFC-1049], which can be used to specify the media type
       and subtype of data in the body of a message and to
       fully specify the native representation (encoding) of
       such data.

 (3)   A Content-Transfer-Encoding header field, which can be
       used to specify an auxiliary encoding that was applied
       to the data in order to allow it to pass through mail
       transport mechanisms which may have data or character
       set limitations.

 (4)   Two additional header fields that can be used to
       further describe the data in a body, the Content-ID and
       Content-Description header fields.

All of the header fields defined in this document are subject
to the general syntactic rules for header fields specified in
RFC 822.  In particular, all of these header fields can
include RFC 822 comments, which have no semantic content and
should be ignored during MIME processing.

Finally, to specify and promote interoperability, RFC MIME-
CONF provides a basic applicability statement for a subset of

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the above mechanisms that defines a minimal level of
"conformance" with this document.

HISTORICAL NOTE:  Several of the mechanisms described in this
document may seem somewhat strange or even baroque at first
reading.  It is important to note that compatibility with
existing standards AND robustness across existing practice
were two of the highest priorities of the working group that
developed this document.  In particular, compatibility was
always favored over elegance.

Please refer to the current edition of the "IAB Official
Protocol Standards" for the standardization state and status
of this protocol.  RFC 822  and RFC 1123 [RFC-1123] also
provide essential background for MIME since no conforming
implementation of MIME can violate them.  In addition, several
other informational RFC documents will be of interest to the
MIME implementor, in particular RFC 1344 [RFC-1344], RFC 1345
[RFC-1345], and RFC 1524 [RFC-1524].

4.  Notations, Conventions, and Generic BNF Grammar

Although the mechanisms specified in this document are all
described in prose, most are also described formally in the
augmented BNF notation of RFC 822.  Implementors will need to
be familiar with this notation in order to understand this
specification, and are referred to RFC 822 for a complete
explanation of the augmented BNF notation.

Some of the augmented BNF in this document makes reference to
syntactic entities that are defined in RFC 822 and not in this
document.  A complete formal grammar, then, is obtained by
combining Appendix A of this document, the collected grammar,
with the BNF of RFC 822 plus the modifications to RFC 822
defined in RFC 1123 (which specifically changes the syntax for
`return', `date' and `mailbox').

In this document, all numeric and octet values are given in
decimal notation.  All media type values, subtype values, and
parameter names as defined in this document are case-
insensitive.  However, parameter values are case-sensitive
unless otherwise specified for the specific parameter.

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FORMATTING NOTE:  Notes, such at this one, provide additional
nonessential information which may be skipped by the reader
without missing anything essential.  The primary purpose of
these non-essential notes is to convey information about the
rationale of this document, or to place this document in the
proper historical or evolutionary context.  Such information
may in particular be skipped by those who are focused entirely
on building a conformant implementation, but may be of use to
those who wish to understand why certain design choices were

4.1.  CRLF

The term CRLF, in this document, refers to the sequence of
octets corresponding to the two US-ASCII characters CR
(decimal value 13) and LF (decimal value 10) which, taken
together, in this order, denote a line break in RFC 822 mail.

4.2.  Character Set

The term "character set" is used in this document to refer to
a table-based method of converting a sequence of octets into a
sequence of characters.  Note that unconditional and
unambiguous conversion in the other direction is not required,
in that not all characters may be available in a given
character set and a character set may provide more than one
sequence of octets to represent a particular character.  This
definition is intended to allow various kinds of character
encodings, from simple single-table mappings such as US-ASCII
to complex table switching methods such as those that use ISO
2022's techniques. However, the definition associated with a
MIME character set name must fully specify the mapping to be
performed from octets to characters.  In particular, use of
external profiling information to determine the exact mapping
is not permitted.

4.3.  Message

The term "message", when not further qualified, means either
the (complete or "top-level") message being transferred on a
network, or a message encapsulated in a body part of type

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4.4.  Body Part

The term "body part", in this document, refers to either a
single part message or one of the parts in the body of a
multipart entity.  A body part has a header and a body, so it
makes sense to speak about the body of a body part.

4.5.  Entity

The term "entity", in this document, means either a message or
a body part.  All kinds of entities share the property that
they have a header and a body.

4.6.  Body

The term "body", when not further qualified, means the body of
an entity, that is the body of either a message or of a body

NOTE:  The previous four definitions are clearly circular.
This is unavoidable, since the overall structure of a MIME
message is indeed recursive.

4.7.  7bit Data

"7bit data" refers to data that is all represented as
relatively short lines (e.g. 1000 octets or less between CRLF
line separation sequences [RFC821]).  No octets with decimal
values greater than 127 are allowed and neither are NULs
(octets with decimal value 0).  CR (decimal value 13) and LF
(decimal value 10) octets only occur as part of CRLF line
separation sequences.

4.8.  8bit Data

"8bit data" refers to data that is all represented as
relatively short lines (e.g. 1000 octets or less between CRLF
line separation sequences [RFC821]), but characters with
decimal values greater than 127 may be used.  As with "7bit
data" CR and LF octets only occur as part of CRLF line
separation sequences and no NULs are allowed.

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4.9.  Binary Data

"Binary data" refers to data where any sequence of octets
whatsoever is allowed.

4.10.  Lines

"Lines" are defined as sequences of octets separated by a CRLF
sequences.  This is consistent with both RFC 821 and RFC 822.

5.  MIME Header Fields

MIME defines a number of new RFC 822 header fields that are
used to describe the content of messages.  These header fields
occur in two contexts:

 (1)   As part of a regular RFC 822 message header.

 (2)   In a MIME body part header within a multipart

The formal definition of these header fields is as follows:

  MIME-message-headers := fields
                          version CRLF
                          [ content CRLF ]
                          [ encoding CRLF ]
                          [ id CRLF ]
                          [ description CRLF ]
                          *( mime-extension-field CRLF )
                          ; The ordering of the header
                          ; fields implied by this BNF
                          ; definition should be ignored

  MIME-part-headers := [ content CRLF ]
                       [ encoding CRLF ]
                       [ id CRLF ]
                       [ description CRLF ]
                       *( mime-extension-field CRLF )
                       ; The ordering of the header
                       ; fields implied by this BNF
                       ; definition should be ignored

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The syntax of the various specific MIME header fields will be
described in the following sections.

6.  MIME-Version Header Field

Since RFC 822 was published in 1982, there has really been
only one format standard for Internet messages, and there has
been little perceived need to declare the format standard in
use.  This document is an independent document that
complements RFC 822.  Although the extensions in this document
have been defined in such a way as to be compatible with RFC
822, there are still circumstances in which it might be
desirable for a mail-processing agent to know whether a
message was composed with the new standard in mind.

Therefore, this document defines a new header field, "MIME-
Version", which is to be used to declare the version of the
Internet message body format standard in use.

Messages composed in accordance with this document MUST
include such a header field, with the following verbatim text:

  MIME-Version: 1.0

The presence of this header field is an assertion that the
message has been composed in compliance with this document.

Since it is possible that a future document might extend the
message format standard again, a formal BNF is given for the
content of the MIME-Version field:

  version := "MIME-Version" ":" 1*DIGIT "." 1*DIGIT

Thus, future format specifiers, which might replace or extend
"1.0", are constrained to be two integer fields, separated by
a period.  If a message is received with a MIME-version value
other than "1.0", it cannot be assumed to conform with this

Note that the MIME-Version header field is required at the top
level of a message.  It is not required for each body part of
a multipart entity.  It is required for the embedded headers
of a body of type "message" if and only if the embedded
message is itself claimed to be MIME-conformant.

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It is not possible to fully specify how a mail reader that
conforms with MIME as defined in this document should treat a
message that might arrive in the future with some value of
MIME-Version other than "1.0".

It is also worth noting that version control for specific
media types is not accomplished using the MIME-Version
mechanism.  In particular, some formats (such as
application/postscript) have version numbering conventions
that are internal to the document format.  Where such
conventions exist, MIME does nothing to supersede them.  Where
no such conventions exist, a MIME media type might use a
"version" parameter in the content-type field if necessary.

NOTE TO IMPLEMENTORS:  When checking MIME-Version values any
RFC 822 comment strings that are present must be ignored.  In
particular, the following four MIME-Version fields are

  MIME-Version: 1.0

  MIME-Version: 1.0 (produced by MetaSend Vx.x)

  MIME-Version: (produced by MetaSend Vx.x) 1.0

  MIME-Version: 1.(produced by MetaSend Vx.x)0

In the absence of a MIME-Version field, a receiving user agent
(whether MIME compliant or not) may optionally choose to
interpret the body of the message according to local
conventions.  Many such conventions are currently in use and
it should be noted that in practice non-MIME messages can
contain just about anything.

It is impossible to be certain that a non-MIME message is
actually plain text in the US-ASCII character set since it
might well be a message that, using some set of nonstandard
local conventions that predate this document, includes text in
another character set or non-textual data presented in a
manner that cannot be automatically recognized (e.g., a
uuencoded compressed UNIX tar file).

MIME-compliant user agents are required, if they support any
such conventions at all, to do so on received messages only.

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In particular, the use of non-US-ASCII text in messages
without a MIME-Version field is strongly discouraged as it
impedes interoperability when sending messages between regions
with different localization conventions. MIME-compliant user
agents MUST include proper MIME labelling when sending
anything other than plain text in the US-ASCII character set.

In addition, non-MIME user agents should be upgraded if at all
possible to include appropriate MIME header information in the
messages they send even if nothing else in MIME is supported.
This upgrade will have little, if any, effect on non-MIME
recipients and will aid MIME in correctly displaying such
messages.  It also provides a smooth transition path to
eventual adoption of other MIME capabilities.

7.  Content-Type Header Field

The purpose of the Content-Type field is to describe the data
contained in the body fully enough that the receiving user
agent can pick an appropriate agent or mechanism to present
the data to the user, or otherwise deal with the data in an
appropriate manner. The value in this field is called a media

HISTORICAL NOTE:  The Content-Type header field was first
defined in RFC 1049.  RFC 1049 used a simpler and less
powerful syntax, but one that is largely compatible with the
mechanism given here.

The Content-Type header field specifies the nature of the data
in the body of an entity by giving media type and subtype
identifiers, and by providing auxiliary information that may
be required for certain media types.  After the media type and
subtype names, the remainder of the header field is simply a
set of parameters, specified in an attribute=value notation.
The ordering of parameters is not significant.

In general, the top-level media type is used to declare the
general type of data, while the subtype specifies a specific
format for that type of data.  Thus, a media type of
"image/xyz" is enough to tell a user agent that the data is an
image, even if the user agent has no knowledge of the specific
image format "xyz".  Such information can be used, for
example, to decide whether or not to show a user the raw data

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from an unrecognized subtype -- such an action might be
reasonable for unrecognized subtypes of text, but not for
unrecognized subtypes of image or audio.  For this reason,
registered subtypes of text, image, audio, and video should
not contain embedded information that is really of a different
type.  Such compound formats should be represented using the
"multipart" or "application" types.

Parameters are modifiers of the media subtype, and as such do
not fundamentally affect the nature of the content.  The set
of meaningful parameters depends on the media type and
subtype.  Most parameters are associated with a single
specific subtype.  However, a given top-level media type may
define parameters which are applicable to any subtype of that
type.  Parameters may be required by their defining content
type or subtype or they may be optional. MIME implementations
must ignore any parameters whose names they do not recognize.

For example, the "charset" parameter is applicable to any
subtype of "text", while the "boundary" parameter is required
for any subtype of the "multipart" media type.

There are NO globally-meaningful parameters that apply to all
media types.  Truly global mechanisms are best addressed, in
the MIME model, by the definition of additional Content-*
header fields.

An initial set of seven top-level media types is defined by
this document.  Five of these are discrete types whose content
is essentially opaque as far as MIME processing is concerned.
The remaining two are composite types whose contents require
additional handling by MIME processors.

This set of top-level media types is intended to be
substantially complete.  It is expected that additions to the
larger set of supported types can generally be accomplished by
the creation of new subtypes of these initial types.  In the
future, more top-level types may be defined only by a
standards-track extension to this standard.  If another top-
level type is to be used for any reason, it must be given a
name starting with "X-" to indicate its non-standard status
and to avoid a potential conflict with a future official name.

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7.1.  Syntax of the Content-Type Header Field

In the Augmented BNF notation of RFC 822, a Content-Type
header field value is defined as follows:

  content := "Content-Type" ":" type "/" subtype
             *(";" parameter)
             ; Matching of media type and subtype
             ; is ALWAYS case-insensitive

  type := discrete-type / composite-type

  discrete-type := "text" / "image" / "audio" / "video" /
                   "application" / extension-token

  composite-type := "message" / "multipart" / extension-token

  extension-token := iana-token / ietf-token / x-token

  iana-token := <a publicly-defined extension token,
                 registered with IANA, as specified in
                 RFC MIME-REG [RFC-MIME-REG]>

  ietf-token := <a publicly-defined extension token,
                 initially registered with IANA and
                 subsequently standardized by the IETF>

  x-token := <The two characters "X-" or "x-" followed, with
              no intervening white space, by any token>

  subtype := extension-token

  parameter := attribute "=" value

  attribute := token

  value := token / quoted-string

  token := 1*<any (US-ASCII) CHAR except SPACE, CTLs,
              or tspecials>

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  tspecials :=  "(" / ")" / "<" / ">" / "@" /
                "," / ";" / ":" / "\" / <">
                "/" / "[" / "]" / "?" / "="
                ; Must be in quoted-string,
                ; to use within parameter values

Note that the definition of "tspecials" is the same as the RFC
822 definition of "specials" with the addition of the three
characters "/", "?", and "=", and the removal of ".".

Note also that a subtype specification is MANDATORY -- it may
not be omitted from a Content-Type header field.  As such,
there are no default subtypes.

The type, subtype, and parameter names are not case sensitive.
For example, TEXT, Text, and TeXt are all equivalent top-level
media types.  Parameter values are normally case sensitive,
but sometimes are interpreted in a case-insensitive fashion,
depending on the intended use.  (For example, multipart
boundaries are case-sensitive, but the "access-type" parameter
for message/External-body is not case-sensitive.)

Note that the value of a quoted string parameter does not
include the quotes.  That is, the quotation marks in a
quoted-string are not a part of the value of the parameter,
but are merely used to delimit that parameter value.  In
addition, comments are allowed in accordance with RFC 822
rules for structured header fields.  Thus the following two

  Content-type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii (Plain text)

  Content-type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

are completely equivalent.

Beyond this syntax, the only syntactic constraint on the
definition of subtype names is the desire that their uses must
not conflict.  That is, it would be undesirable to have two
different communities using "Content-Type: application/foobar"
to mean two different things.  The process of defining new
media subtypes, then, is not intended to be a mechanism for
imposing restrictions, but simply a mechanism for publicizing
their definition and usage.  There are, therefore, two
acceptable mechanisms for defining new media subtypes:

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 (1)   Private values (starting with "X-") may be defined
       bilaterally between two cooperating agents without
       outside registration or standardization.

 (2)   New standard values MUST be documented, registered
       with, and approved by IANA, as described in RFC MIME-
       REG [RFC-MIME-REG].

The second document in this set, RFC MIME-IMT, defines the
initial set of media types for MIME.

7.2.  Content-Type Defaults

Default RFC 822 messages without a MIME Content-Type header
are taken by this protocol to be plain text in the US-ASCII
character set, which can be explicitly specified as:

  Content-type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

This default is assumed if no Content-Type header field is
specified.  In the presence of a MIME-Version header field, a
receiving User Agent can also assume that plain US-ASCII text
was the sender's intent.  Plain US-ASCII text may still be
assumed in the absence of a MIME-Version specification, but
the sender's intent might have been otherwise.

When a mail reader encounters mail with an unknown Content-
Type value, it should generally treat it as equivalent to
"application/octet-stream", as described later in this

8.  Content-Transfer-Encoding Header Field

Many media types which could be usefully transported via email
are represented, in their "natural" format, as 8-bit character
or binary data.  Such data cannot be transmitted over some
transport protocols.  For example, RFC 821 (SMTP) restricts
mail messages to 7-bit US-ASCII data with lines no longer than
1000 characters.

It is necessary, therefore, to define a standard mechanism for
encoding such data into a 7-bit short line format.  Proper
labelling of unencoded material in less restrictive formats

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for direct use over less restrictive transports is also
desireable.  This document specifies that such encodings will
be indicated by a new "Content-Transfer-Encoding" header
field.  This field has not been defined by any previous

8.1.  Content-Transfer-Encoding Syntax

The Content-Transfer-Encoding field's value is a single token
specifying the type of encoding, as enumerated below.

  encoding := "Content-Transfer-Encoding" ":" mechanism

  mechanism := "7bit" / "8bit" / "binary" /
               "quoted-printable" / "base64" /
               ietf-token / x-token

These values are not case sensitive -- Base64 and BASE64 and
bAsE64 are all equivalent.  An encoding type of 7BIT requires
that the body is already in a 7-bit mail-ready representation.
This is the default value -- that is, "Content-Transfer-
Encoding: 7BIT" is assumed if the Content-Transfer-Encoding
header field is not present.

8.2.  Content-Transfer-Encodings Sematics

This single Content-Transfer-Encoding token actually provides
two pieces of information.  It specifies what sort of encoding
transformation the body was subjected to, and it specifies
what the domain of the result is.

Three transformations are currently defined: identity, the
"quoted-printable" encoding, and the "base64" encoding.  The
domains are "binary", "8bit" and "7bit".

The Content-Transfer-Encoding values "7bit", "8bit", and
"binary" all mean that the identity (i.e. NO) encoding
transformation has been performed.  As such, they serve simply
as indicators of the domain of the body part data, and provide
useful information about the sort of encoding that might be
needed for transmission in a given transport system.  The
terms "7bit data", "8bit data", and "binary data" are all

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defined in Section 4.

The quoted-printable and base64 encodings transform their
input from an arbitrary domain into material in the "7bit"
domain, thus making it safe to carry over restricted
transports.  The specific definition of the transformations
are given below.

The proper Content-Transfer-Encoding label must always be
used.  Labelling unencoded data containing 8-bit characters as
"7bit" is not allowed, nor is labelling unencoded non-line-
oriented data as anything other than "binary" allowed.

Unlike media subtypes, a proliferation of Content-Transfer-
Encoding values is both undesirable and unnecessary.  However,
establishing only a single transformation into the "7bit"
domain does not seem possible.  There is a tradeoff between
the desire for a compact and efficient encoding of largely-
binary data and the desire for a readable encoding of data
that is mostly, but not entirely, 7-bit.  For this reason, at
least two encoding mechanisms are necessary: a "readable"
encoding (quoted-printable) and a "dense" encoding (base64).

Mail transport for unencoded 8-bit data is defined in RFC 1652
[RFC-1652].  As of the publication of this document, there are
no standardized Internet mail transports for which it is
legitimate to include unencoded binary data in mail bodies.
Thus there are no circumstances in which the "binary"
Content-Transfer-Encoding is actually valid in Internet mail.
However, in the event that binary mail transport becomes a
reality in Internet mail, or when this document is used in
conjunction with any other binary-capable transport mechanism,
binary bodies should be labelled as such using this mechanism.

NOTE:  The five values defined for the Content-Transfer-
Encoding field imply nothing about the media type other than
the algorithm by which it was encoded or the transport system
requirements if unencoded.

8.3.  New Content-Transfer-Encodings

Implementors may, if necessary, define new Content-Transfer-
Encoding values, but must use an x-token, which is a name

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prefixed by "X-", to indicate its non-standard status, e.g.,
"Content-Transfer-Encoding:  x-my-new-encoding". All content-
transfer-encoding namespace except that beginning with "X-" is
explicitly reserved to the IANA for future use.

Unlike media types and subtypes, the creation of new Content-
Transfer-Encoding values is STRONGLY discouraged, as it seems
likely to hinder interoperability with little potential
benefit.  Such use is therefore allowed only as the result of
an agreement between cooperating user agents.

8.4.  Interpretation and Use

If a Content-Transfer-Encoding header field appears as part of
a message header, it applies to the entire body of that
message.  If a Content-Transfer-Encoding header field appears
as part of a body part's headers, it applies only to the body
of that body part.  If an entity is of type "multipart" the
Content-Transfer-Encoding is not permitted to have any value
other than "7bit", "8bit" or "binary".  Even more severe
restrictions apply to some subtypes of the "message" type.

It should be noted that email is character-oriented, so that
the mechanisms described here are mechanisms for encoding
arbitrary octet streams, not bit streams.  If a bit stream is
to be encoded via one of these mechanisms, it must first be
converted to an 8-bit byte stream using the network standard
bit order ("big-endian"), in which the earlier bits in a
stream become the higher-order bits in a 8-bit byte.  A bit
stream not ending at an 8-bit boundary must be padded with
zeroes.  This document provides a mechanism for noting the
addition of such padding in the case of the
application/octet-stream media type, which has a "padding"

The encoding mechanisms defined here explicitly encode all
data in US-ASCII.  Thus, for example, suppose an entity has
header fields such as:

  Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
  Content-transfer-encoding: base64

This must be interpreted to mean that the body is a base64
US-ASCII encoding of data that was originally in ISO-8859-1,

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and will be in that character set again after decoding.

Certain Content-Transfer-Encoding values may only be used on
certain media types.  In particular, it is EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN
to use any encodings other than "7bit", "8bit", or "binary"
with any composite media type, i.e. one that recursively
includes other Content-Type fields.  Currently the only
composite media types are "multipart" and "message".  All
encodings that are desired for bodies of type multipart or
message must be done at the innermost level, by encoding the
actual body that needs to be encoded.

It should also be noted that, by definition, if a composite
entity has a transfer-encoding value such as "7bit", but one
of the enclosed parts has a less restrictive value such as
"8bit", then either the outer "7bit" labelling is in error,
because 8-bit data are included, or the inner "8bit" labelling
placed an unnecessarily high demand on the transport system
because the actual included data were actually 7-bit-safe.

NOTE ON ENCODING RESTRICTIONS:  Though the prohibition against
using content-transfer-encodings on composite body data may
seem overly restrictive, it is necessary to prevent nested
encodings, in which data are passed through an encoding
algorithm multiple times, and must be decoded multiple times
in order to be properly viewed.  Nested encodings add
considerable complexity to user agents:  Aside from the
obvious efficiency problems with such multiple encodings, they
can obscure the basic structure of a message.  In particular,
they can imply that several decoding operations are necessary
simply to find out what types of bodies a message contains.
Banning nested encodings may complicate the job of certain
mail gateways, but this seems less of a problem than the
effect of nested encodings on user agents.

TRANSFER-ENCODING: It may seem that the Content-Transfer-
Encoding could be inferred from the characteristics of the
media that is to be encoded, or, at the very least, that
certain Content-Transfer-Encodings could be mandated for use
with specific media types.  There are several reasons why this
is not the case. First, given the varying types of transports
used for mail, some encodings may be appropriate for some
combinations of media types and transports but not for others.
(For example, in an 8-bit transport, no encoding would be

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required for text in certain character sets, while such
encodings are clearly required for 7-bit SMTP.)

Second, certain media types may require different types of
transfer encoding under different circumstances.  For example,
many PostScript bodies might consist entirely of short lines
of 7-bit data and hence require no encoding at all.  Other
PostScript bodies (especially those using Level 2 PostScript's
binary encoding mechanism) may only be reasonably represented
using a binary transport encoding.  Finally, since the
Content-Type field is intended to be an open-ended
specification mechanism, strict specification of an
association between media types and encodings effectively
couples the specification of an application protocol with a
specific lower-level transport.  This is not desirable since
the developers of a media type should not have to be aware of
all the transports in use and what their limitations are.

NOTE ON TRANSLATING ENCODINGS:  The quoted-printable and
base64 encodings are designed so that conversion between them
is possible.  The only issue that arises in such a conversion
is the handling of line breaks.  When converting from quoted-
printable to base64 a line break must be converted into a CRLF
sequence.  Similarly, a CRLF sequence in base64 data must be
converted to a quoted-printable line break, but ONLY when
converting text data.

NOTE ON CANONICAL ENCODING MODEL:  There was some confusion,
in the predecessors of this RFC, regarding the model for when
email data was to be converted to canonical form and encoded,
and in particular how this process would affect the treatment
of CRLFs, given that the representation of newlines varies
greatly from system to system, and the relationship between
content-transfer-encodings and character sets.  A canonical
model for encoding is presented in RFC MIME-CONF for this

8.5.  Quoted-Printable Content-Transfer-Encoding

The Quoted-Printable encoding is intended to represent data
that largely consists of octets that correspond to printable
characters in the US-ASCII character set.  It encodes the data
in such a way that the resulting octets are unlikely to be
modified by mail transport.  If the data being encoded are

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mostly US-ASCII text, the encoded form of the data remains
largely recognizable by humans.  A body which is entirely US-
ASCII may also be encoded in Quoted-Printable to ensure the
integrity of the data should the message pass through a
character-translating, and/or line-wrapping gateway.

In this encoding, octets are to be represented as determined
by the following rules:

 (1)   (General 8-bit representation) Any octet, except a CR
       or LF that is part of a CRLF line break of the
       canonical (standard) form of the data being encoded,
       may be represented by an "=" followed by a two digit
       hexadecimal representation of the octet's value.  The
       digits of the hexadecimal alphabet, for this purpose,
       are "0123456789ABCDEF".  Uppercase letters must be used
       when sending hexadecimal data, though a robust
       implementation may choose to recognize lowercase
       letters on receipt.  Thus, for example, the decimal
       value 12 (US-ASCII form feed) can be represented by
       "=0C", and the decimal value 61 (US-ASCII EQUAL SIGN)
       can be represented by "=3D".  This rule must be
       followed except when the following rules allow an
       alternative encoding.

 (2)   (Literal representation) Octets with decimal values of
       33 through 60 inclusive, and 62 through 126, inclusive,
       MAY be represented as the US-ASCII characters which
       correspond to those octets (EXCLAMATION POINT through
       LESS THAN, and GREATER THAN through TILDE,

 (3)   (White Space) Octets with values of 9 and 32 MAY be
       represented as US-ASCII TAB (HT) and SPACE characters,
       respectively, but MUST NOT be so represented at the end
       of an encoded line.  Any TAB (HT) or SPACE characters
       on an encoded line MUST thus be followed on that line
       by a printable character.  In particular, an "=" at the
       end of an encoded line, indicating a soft line break
       (see rule #5) may follow one or more TAB (HT) or SPACE
       characters.  It follows that an octet with decimal
       value 9 or 32 appearing at the end of an encoded line
       must be represented according to Rule #1.  This rule is
       necessary because some MTAs (Message Transport Agents,
       programs which transport messages from one user to

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       another, or perform a part of such transfers) are known
       to pad lines of text with SPACEs, and others are known
       to remove "white space" characters from the end of a
       line.  Therefore, when decoding a Quoted-Printable
       body, any trailing white space on a line must be
       deleted, as it will necessarily have been added by
       intermediate transport agents.

 (4)   (Line Breaks) A line break in a text body, represented
       as a CRLF sequence in the text canonical form, must be
       represented by a (RFC 822) line break, which is also a
       CRLF sequence, in the Quoted-Printable encoding.  Since
       the canonical representation of media types other than
       text do not generally include the representation of
       line breaks as CRLF sequences, no hard line breaks
       (i.e. line breaks that are intended to be meaningful
       and to be displayed to the user) should occur in the
       quoted-printable encoding of such types.  Sequences
       like "=0D", "=0A", "=0A=0D" and "=0D=0A" will routinely
       appear in non-text data represented in quoted-
       printable, of course.

       Note that many implementations may elect to encode the
       local representation of various content types directly
       rather than converting to canonical form first,
       encoding, and then converting back to local
       representation.  In particular, this may apply to plain
       text material on systems that use newline conventions
       other than a CRLF terminator sequence.  Such an
       implementation optimization is permissible, but only
       when the combined canonicalization-encoding step is
       equivalent to performing the three steps separately.

 (5)   (Soft Line Breaks) The Quoted-Printable encoding
       REQUIRES that encoded lines be no more than 76
       characters long.  If longer lines are to be encoded
       with the Quoted-Printable encoding, "soft" line breaks
       must be used.  An equal sign as the last character on a
       encoded line indicates such a non-significant ("soft")
       line break in the encoded text.

Thus if the "raw" form of the line is a single unencoded line
that says:

  Now's the time for all folk to come to the aid of their country.

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This can be represented, in the Quoted-Printable encoding, as:

  Now's the time =
  for all folk to come=
   to the aid of their country.

This provides a mechanism with which long lines are encoded in
such a way as to be restored by the user agent.  The 76
character limit does not count the trailing CRLF, but counts
all other characters, including any equal signs.

Since the hyphen character ("-") is represented as itself in
the Quoted-Printable encoding, care must be taken, when
encapsulating a quoted-printable encoded body inside one or
more multipart entities, to ensure that the boundary delimiter
does not appear anywhere in the encoded body.  (A good
strategy is to choose a boundary that includes a character
sequence such as "=_" which can never appear in a quoted-
printable body.  See the definition of multipart messages
later in this document.)

NOTE:  The quoted-printable encoding represents something of a
compromise between readability and reliability in transport.
Bodies encoded with the quoted-printable encoding will work
reliably over most mail gateways, but may not work perfectly
over a few gateways, notably those involving translation into
EBCDIC.  A higher level of confidence is offered by the base64
Content-Transfer-Encoding.  A way to get reasonably reliable
transport through EBCDIC gateways is to also quote the US-
ASCII characters


according to rule #1.

Because quoted-printable data is generally assumed to be
line-oriented, it is to be expected that the representation of
the breaks between the lines of quoted printable data may be
altered in transport, in the same manner that plain text mail
has always been altered in Internet mail when passing between
systems with differing newline conventions.  If such
alterations are likely to constitute a corruption of the data,
it is probably more sensible to use the base64 encoding rather
than the quoted-printable encoding.

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WARNING TO IMPLEMENTORS:  If binary data are encoded in
quoted-printable, care must be taken to encode CR and LF
characters as "=0D" and "=0A", respectively.  In particular, a
CRLF sequence in binary data should be encoded as "=0D=0A".
Otherwise, if CRLF were represented as a hard line break, it
might be incorrectly decoded on platforms with different line
break conventions.

For formalists, the syntax of quoted-printable data is
described by the following grammar:

  quoted-printable := qp-line *(["="] CRLF qp-line)
                      ; Maximum line length of 76 characters
                      ; excluding CRLF

  qp-line := [*(ptext / SPACE / TAB) ptext]

  ptext := octet / safe-char

  safe-char := <any octet with decimal value of 33 through
               60 inclusive, and 62 through 126>
               ; Characters not listed as "mail-safe" in
               ; RFC MIME-CONF are also not recommended.

  octet := "=" 2(DIGIT / "A" / "B" / "C" / "D" / "E" / "F")
           ; Octet must be used for characters > 127, =,
           ; SPACEs or TABs at the ends of lines, and is
           ; recommended for any character not listed in
           ; RFC MIME-CONF as "mail-safe".

IMPORTANT NOTE:  The addition of LWSP between the elements
shown in this BNF is NOT allowed since this BNF does not
specify a structured header field.

8.6.  Base64 Content-Transfer-Encoding

The Base64 Content-Transfer-Encoding is designed to represent
arbitrary sequences of octets in a form that need not be
humanly readable.  The encoding and decoding algorithms are
simple, but the encoded data are consistently only about 33
percent larger than the unencoded data.  This encoding is
virtually identical to the one used in Privacy Enhanced Mail
(PEM) applications, as defined in RFC 1421 [RFC-1421].

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A 65-character subset of US-ASCII is used, enabling 6 bits to
be represented per printable character. (The extra 65th
character, "=", is used to signify a special processing

NOTE:  This subset has the important property that it is
represented identically in all versions of ISO 646, including
US-ASCII, and all characters in the subset are also
represented identically in all versions of EBCDIC.  Other
popular encodings, such as the encoding used by the uuencode
utility and the base85 encoding specified as part of Level 2
PostScript, do not share these properties, and thus do not
fulfill the portability requirements a binary transport
encoding for mail must meet.

The encoding process represents 24-bit groups of input bits as
output strings of 4 encoded characters.  Proceeding from left
to right, a 24-bit input group is formed by concatenating 3
8-bit input groups.  These 24 bits are then treated as 4
concatenated 6-bit groups, each of which is translated into a
single digit in the base64 alphabet.  When encoding a bit
stream via the base64 encoding, the bit stream must be
presumed to be ordered with the most-significant-bit first.
That is, the first bit in the stream will be the high-order
bit in the first 8-bit byte, and the eighth bit will be the
low-order bit in the first 8-bit byte, and so on.

Each 6-bit group is used as an index into an array of 64
printable characters.  The character referenced by the index
is placed in the output string.  These characters, identified
in Table 1, below, are selected so as to be universally
representable, and the set excludes characters with particular
significance to SMTP (e.g., ".", CR, LF) and to the multipart
boundary delimiters defined in this document (e.g., "-").

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                 Table 1: The Base64 Alphabet

  Value Encoding  Value Encoding  Value Encoding  Value Encoding
      0 A            17 R            34 i            51 z
      1 B            18 S            35 j            52 0
      2 C            19 T            36 k            53 1
      3 D            20 U            37 l            54 2
      4 E            21 V            38 m            55 3
      5 F            22 W            39 n            56 4
      6 G            23 X            40 o            57 5
      7 H            24 Y            41 p            58 6
      8 I            25 Z            42 q            59 7
      9 J            26 a            43 r            60 8
     10 K            27 b            44 s            61 9
     11 L            28 c            45 t            62 +
     12 M            29 d            46 u            63 /
     13 N            30 e            47 v
     14 O            31 f            48 w         (pad) =
     15 P            32 g            49 x
     16 Q            33 h            50 y

The encoded output stream must be represented in lines of no
more than 76 characters each.  All line breaks or other
characters not found in Table 1 must be ignored by decoding
software.  In base64 data, characters other than those in
Table 1, line breaks, and other white space probably indicate
a transmission error, about which a warning message or even a
message rejection might be appropriate under some

Special processing is performed if fewer than 24 bits are
available at the end of the data being encoded.  A full
encoding quantum is always completed at the end of a body.
When fewer than 24 input bits are available in an input group,
zero bits are added (on the right) to form an integral number
of 6-bit groups.  Padding at the end of the data is performed
using the "=" character.  Since all base64 input is an
integral number of octets, only the following cases can arise:
(1) the final quantum of encoding input is an integral
multiple of 24 bits; here, the final unit of encoded output
will be an integral multiple of 4 characters with no "="
padding, (2) the final quantum of encoding input is exactly 8
bits; here, the final unit of encoded output will be two
characters followed by two "=" padding characters, or (3) the
final quantum of encoding input is exactly 16 bits; here, the

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final unit of encoded output will be three characters followed
by one "=" padding character.

Because it is used only for padding at the end of the data,
the occurrence of any "=" characters may be taken as evidence
that the end of the data has been reached (without truncation
in transit).  No such assurance is possible, however, when the
number of octets transmitted was a multiple of three and no
"=" characters are present.

Any characters outside of the base64 alphabet are to be
ignored in base64-encoded data.

Care must be taken to use the proper octets for line breaks if
base64 encoding is applied directly to text material that has
not been converted to canonical form.  In particular, text
line breaks must be converted into CRLF sequences prior to
base64 encoding.  The important thing to note is that this may
be done directly by the encoder rather than in a prior
canonicalization step in some implementations.

NOTE: There is no need to worry about quoting potential
boundary delimiters within base64-encoded parts of multipart
entities because no hyphen characters are used in the base64

9.  Content-ID Header Field

In constructing a high-level user agent, it may be desirable
to allow one body to make reference to another.  Accordingly,
bodies may be labelled using the "Content-ID" header field,
which is syntactically identical to the "Message-ID" header

  id := "Content-ID" ":" msg-id

Like the Message-ID values, Content-ID values must be
generated to be world-unique.

The Content-ID value may be used for uniquely identifying MIME
entities in several contexts, particularly for caching data
referenced by the message/external-body mechanism.  Although
the Content-ID header is generally optional, its use is
MANDATORY in implementations which generate data of the

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optional MIME media type "message/external-body".  That is,
each message/external-body entity must have a Content-ID field
to permit caching of such data.

It is also worth noting that the Content-ID value has special
semantics in the case of the multipart/alternative media type.
This is explained in the section of this document dealing with

10.  Content-Description Header Field

The ability to associate some descriptive information with a
given body is often desirable.  For example, it may be useful
to mark an "image" body as "a picture of the Space Shuttle
Endeavor."  Such text may be placed in the Content-Description
header field.  This header field is always optional.

  description := "Content-Description" ":" *text

The description is presumed to be given in the US-ASCII
character set, although the mechanism specified in RFC MIME-
Content-Description values.

11.  Additional MIME Header Fields

Future documents may elect to define additional MIME header
fields for various purposes.  Any new header field that
further describes the content of a message should begin with
the string "Content-" to allow such fields which appear in a
message header to be distinguished from ordinary RFC 822
message header fields.

  MIME-extension-field := <Any RFC 822 header field which
                           begins with the string

12.  Summary

Using the MIME-Version, Content-Type, and Content-Transfer-
Encoding header fields, it is possible to include, in a
standardized way, arbitrary types of data objects with RFC 822

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conformant mail messages.  No restrictions imposed by either
RFC 821 or RFC 822 are violated, and care has been taken to
avoid problems caused by additional restrictions imposed by
the characteristics of some Internet mail transport mechanisms

The next document in this set, RFC MIME-IMT, specifies the
media types that can be labelled and transported using these

13.  Security Considerations

Security issues are discussed in the second document in this

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14.  Authors' Addresses

For more information, the authors of this document are best
contacted via Internet mail:

Nathaniel S. Borenstein
First Virtual Holdings
25 Washington Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960

Email: nsb(_at_)nsb(_dot_)fv(_dot_)com
Phone: +1 201 540 8967
Fax:   +1 201 993 3032

Ned Freed
Innosoft International, Inc.
1050 East Garvey Avenue South
West Covina, CA 91790

Email: ned(_at_)innosoft(_dot_)com
Phone: +1 818 919 3600
Fax:   +1 818 919 3614

MIME is a result of the work of the Internet Engineering Task
Force Working Group on Email Extensions.  The chairman of that
group, Greg Vaudreuil, may be reached at:

Gregory M. Vaudreuil
Tigon Corporation
17060 Dallas Parkway
Dallas Texas, 75248

Email: greg(_dot_)vaudreuil(_at_)ons(_dot_)octel(_dot_)com
Phone: +1 214 733 2722

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15.  Acknowledgements

This document is the result of the collective effort of a
large number of people, at several IETF meetings, on the
IETF-SMTP and IETF-822 mailing lists, and elsewhere.  Although
any enumeration seems doomed to suffer from egregious
omissions, the following are among the many contributors to
this effort:

  Harald Tveit Alvestrand       Marc Andreessen
  Randall Atkinson              Bob Braden
  Philippe Brandon              Brian Capouch
  Kevin Carosso                 Uhhyung Choi
  Peter Clitherow               Dave Collier-Brown
  Cristian Constantinof         John Coonrod
  Mark Crispin                  Dave Crocker
  Stephen Crocker               Terry Crowley
  Walt Daniels                  Jim Davis
  Frank Dawson                  Axel Deininger
  Hitoshi Doi                   Kevin Donnelly
  Steve Dorner                  Keith Edwards
  Chris Eich                    Dana S. Emery
  Johnny Eriksson               Craig Everhart
  Patrik Faltstrom              Erik E. Fair
  Roger Fajman                  Alain Fontaine
  Martin Forssen                James M. Galvin
  Stephen Gildea                Philip Gladstone
  Thomas Gordon                 Keld Simonsen
  Terry Gray                    Phill Gross
  James Hamilton                David Herron
  Mark Horton                   Bruce Howard
  Bill Janssen                  Olle Jarnefors
  Risto Kankkunen               Phil Karn
  Alan Katz                     Tim Kehres
  Neil Katin                    Steve Kille
  Kyuho Kim                     Anders Klemets
  John Klensin                  Valdis Kletniek
  Jim Knowles                   Stev Knowles
  Bob Kummerfeld                Pekka Kytolaakso
  Stellan Lagerstrom            Vincent Lau
  Timo Lehtinen                 Donald Lindsay
  Warner Losh                   Carlyn Lowery
  Laurence Lundblade            Charles Lynn
  John R. MacMillan             Larry Masinter
  Rick McGowan                  Michael J. McInerny

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  Leo Mclaughlin                Goli Montaser-Kohsari
  Keith Moore                   Tom Moore
  Erik Naggum                   Mark Needleman
  John Noerenberg               Mats Ohrman
  Julian Onions                 Michael Patton
  David J. Pepper               Erik van der Poel
  Jon Postel                    Blake C. Ramsdell
  Christer Romson               Luc Rooijakkers
  Marshall T. Rose              Jonathan Rosenberg
  Guido van Rossum              Jan Rynning
  Harri Salminen                Michael Sanderson
  Yutaka Sato                   Markku Savela
  Richard Alan Schafer          Masahiro Sekiguchi
  Mark Sherman                  Bob Smart
  Peter Speck                   Henry Spencer
  Einar Stefferud               Michael Stein
  Klaus Steinberger             Peter Svanberg
  James Thompson                Steve Uhler
  Stuart Vance                  Peter Vanderbilt
  Greg Vaudreuil                Ed Vielmetti
  Larry W. Virden               Ryan Waldron
  Rhys Weatherly                Jay Weber
  Dave Wecker                   Wally Wedel
  Sven-Ove Westberg             Brian Wideen
  John Wobus                    Glenn Wright
  Rayan Zachariassen            David Zimmerman

The authors apologize for any omissions from this list, which
are certainly unintentional.

                     Expires October 1995            [Page 33]

Internet Draft     Internet Message Bodies          April 1995

               Appendix A -- Collected Grammar

This appendix contains the complete BNF grammar for all the
syntax specified by this document.

By itself, however, this grammar is incomplete.  It refers to
several entities that are defined by RFC 822.  Rather than
reproduce those definitions here, and risk unintentional
differences between the two, this document simply refers the
reader to RFC 822 for the remaining definitions.  Wherever a
term is undefined, it refers to the RFC 822 definition.

  attribute := token

  composite-type := "message" / "multipart" / extension-token

  content := "Content-Type" ":" type "/" subtype
             *(";" parameter)
             ; Matching of media type and subtype
             ; is ALWAYS case-insensitive

  description := "Content-Description" ":" *text

  discrete-type := "text" / "image" / "audio" / "video" /
                   "application" / extension-token

  encoding := "Content-Transfer-Encoding" ":" mechanism

  extension-token := iana-token / ietf-token / x-token

  iana-token := <a publicly-defined extension token,
                 registered with IANA, as specified in
                 RFC MIME-REG>

  ietf-token := <a publicly-defined extension token,
                 initially registered with IANA and
                 subsequently standardized by the IETF>

  id := "Content-ID" ":" msg-id

                     Expires October 1995            [Page 34]

Internet Draft     Internet Message Bodies          April 1995

  mechanism := "7bit" / "8bit" / "binary" /
               "quoted-printable" / "base64" /
               ietf-token / x-token

  octet := "=" 2(DIGIT / "A" / "B" / "C" / "D" / "E" / "F")
           ; Octet must be used for characters > 127, =,
           ; SPACEs or TABs at the ends of lines, and is
           ; recommended for any character not listed in
           ; RFC MIME-CONF as "mail-safe".

  parameter := attribute "=" value

  ptext := octet / safe-char

  qp-line := [*(ptext / SPACE / TAB) ptext]

  quoted-printable := qp-line *(["="] CRLF qp-line)
                      ; Maximum line length of 76 characters
                      ; excluding CRLF

  safe-char := <any octet with decimal value of 33 through
               60 inclusive, and 62 through 126>
               ; Characters not listed as "mail-safe" in
               ; RFC MIME-CONF are also not recommended.

  subtype := extension-token

  token := 1*<any (US-ASCII) CHAR except SPACE, CTLs,
              or tspecials>

  tspecials :=  "(" / ")" / "<" / ">" / "@" /
                "," / ";" / ":" / "\" / <">
                "/" / "[" / "]" / "?" / "="
                ; Must be in quoted-string,
                ; to use within parameter values

  type := discrete-type / composite-type

  value := token / quoted-string

  version := "MIME-Version" ":" 1*DIGIT "." 1*DIGIT

  x-token := <The two characters "X-" or "x-" followed, with
              no  intervening white space, by any token>

                     Expires October 1995            [Page 35]
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