Most companies believe email is rude and prefer to receive CVs and other important documentation on paper, rather than in electronic form, according to a study by marketing recruitment company Stopgap.

But when it came to notification of meetings and the distribution of after-meeting reports email won out over paper, with 88 percent in favour of an electronic means of delivery.

Out of the 100 companies questioned, 70 percent would rather receive formal complaints via letter than email, while most would opt for a telephone call for news of sales success.

"While they are probably greeted on a daily basis by a mass of email communications, many company directors would frequently prefer to receive letters and sometimes, telephone calls instead," said Claire Owen, managing director of Stopgap.

Despite the success of email, the tendency among users to abbreviate sentences and use attachments can come across as rude.

"The brevity and somewhat bland format of electronic mail can all too frequently create the wrong impression - the same message, when spoken over the telephone, would have been less likely to offend," said Owen.