Good email management starts with creating good quality messages. This guidance provides some tips for creating better emails.
Be professional in tone
It can be tempting to see email as an informal means of communication. Sometimes if you’re having a bad day your message can reflect that. Remember the person you’re sending your message to and try to remain professional in tone. Be aware email messages are subject to Freedom of Information and Data Protection legislation and your message could be released in response to a request.
Be clear about your purpose
If you put the purpose of your message close to the top it will be easier for the recipient to make a quick decision about how urgent it needs to be dealt with.
Use a Clear Subject Line
The subject line is the only descriptive information you get to add to a message and it’s the bit that the recipient will see first. A good subject line will enable the recipient to understand exactly why you’re emailing them and how quickly they need to deal with your message. It will also make it easier for them to find once they’ve filed it away.
Limit the main recipients of your message to those who need to act or take decisions on it. Use “Cc” for recipients who need the message for information only. If you’re replying to a message in which people were ‘cc-ed’ originally think about whether you really need to reply to all of them or whether it is just the sender that you need to communicate with.
One topic – one email
Only address one topic within one email. More than one topic in one email makes it harder to describe the message content in the subject line and harder for the recipient to file it.
Use links rather than attachments
Avoid using email to send documents – send a web link to the document on the web or the file path for where it’s stored on the shared drive.
Under ‘Delivery Options’ you have the opportunity to state how important your message is (normal, high or low). If you select ‘high’ your message will appear in the recipients inbox marked with an exclamation mark. Make sure you only use ‘high’ when it really is of high importance to make it easier for the recipient to identify when something is of significance.
It is very easy to send sensitive or confidential information to the wrong person. Use the address book to identify the right recipients. If you’re sending sensitive personal information or a large data set of personal information outside the University’s systems use encryption. Encrypt your mobile device if you’re using it to receive emails containing personal information which is not already in the public domain. For advice on encryption contact the INSRV Security Team.
Think about whether you need to include the whole email string in your reply. Sometimes if the email chain is long and the topic has changed there is no need to retain the complete history in the reply message. Avoid annotating the original email. The email becomes very difficult to read and it is much harder to identify what was said in the original email.