If you use a Web-based email program (Section 14.1.4), there's no setup to speak of. Signing up for a name and password is all you need to do to set up your mail account.
If you use a desktop email program, though, you may have to slog through a bevy of geeky abbreviations and acronyms to set up your account. During the process, you'll supply a few pieces of information so that the mail program knows how to find your ISP's mail server so it can collect your mail for you.
Since Outlook Express is the most common email program on the planet, it's a good one to use as an example. (If, later, you install Thunderbird or some other mail program, it will import all your Outlook Express settings anyway to save you the time and trouble of re-entering them.)