A fax message transmitted by a facsimile transmitter includes bar coded headers in its first page. At least one of these headers contains the name of an addressee that is also a user on a network. A fax server receiving the incoming fax message inspects the first page of the incoming facsimile to locate the bar coded headers. If a TO: header is found it is used to determine the corresponding E-mail address, and the fax is automatically routed as E-mail on the network to the addressee. Any other headers, such as a FROM: or SUBJECT: header have their bar coded content converted to ASCII and attached as ASII strings to the first page for easy inspection. An asymmetrical nature of the bar code used allows the fax server to determine which of a left-to-right or right-to-left scanning direction produces valid bar code. This in turn indicates whether the headers for the first page are right side up or upside down. By implication, this determines the orientation for the entire fax document. If the document is found to be upside down the fax server erects the document before mailing it to the addressee. The fax server or some other application running on a computer served by the network may be the addressee, and if the incoming fax is a request for information (whether by further bar code or check marks in predefined fields) the information may simply be sent by return fax to the sender, perhaps as part of the same phone call.