Email guidelines introduction Email guidelines introduction

Email is a powerful and fast means of written communication with a built-in audit trail. You can reach numerous people with the same message at the same time. To be an effective user of email, we suggest you consider the following advice.

More information about using the email systems at UEA is available at https://portal.uea.ac.uk/is/online-wiki-helpdesk/-/wiki/Main/Email

Creating a new email
Responding to email
Managing your mail
Security and compliance

Creating a new email Creating a new email

  • Email is not a substitute for face-to-face meetings. Consider whether a meeting or phone call would be a more effective use of your and the other party’s time.
  • Consider whether email is a suitable means for the communication. This is a matter for personal judgement, but the following are not suitable for communication via email: staff issues, sending data containing personal details, information about content of exam papers, assessment marks, where there is a contractual or legal requirement to prove the identity of the sender or receipt of the message, student assignments or material forming part of a formal assessment.
  • Sending email from your UEA email address will be seen as representing the views of the organisation, and it is recommended that you add a standard email disclaimer notice text to external emails if appropriate.
  • Personal (non-UEA) email accounts should not be used for conducting business on behalf of UEA.
  • Email is not effective for urgent matters. If a response is required within 3 hours, use the phone instead.
  • Carefully consider who the message is relevant to and therefore who should receive it.
  • You can effectively target your message by using one of the many automatically generated and manually maintained mailing lists. Only use a mailing list for the purpose for which it was created. If individuals receive too many messages from you of little relevance to them, they will feel they are being spammed.
  • Excessive use of email lists can degrade system performance which impacts on all users of the system, and use of large email lists should be scheduled for outside normal working hours.
  • Check the recipients' email addresses before sending the message. If you use the auto completion feature in Outlook for email addresses, it is easy to select the wrong name. The Global Address List provided in Outlook gives email addresses for all staff and students at UEA and can be used to search for email addresses. When searching for the correct address, check the department as well as the name. UEA is a large organisation, and many people have similar easily confused names.
  • Always enter an email subject. Make it clear and specific. This helps the recipient prioritise and file the email. Do not include material unrelated to the subject in the email. Instead send another email with a different subject.
  • Be clear about the purpose of the email. Is it for information, action, or confirmation? Make the purpose clear in the first few lines of the message, including a deadline if necessary.
  • Do not use capital letters in emails (except e.g. at the beginning of sentences and for acronyms). It looks like you are shouting and makes the message more difficult to read.
  • Check spelling and grammar in your email before sending it. If you take care over its presentation, it will be treated more seriously.
  • If using abbreviations or jargon, consider whether they will be understood by the recipients, and if not spell them out.
  • Always be respectful in your email communications and avoid using email to cause offence to others. Communications via email are subject to University Regulations and should not be offensive, obscene, indecent, libellous, discriminatory, or likely to cause annoyance or anxiety.
  • Do not create or pass on unsolicited commercial or advertising material, unless authorised to do so on behalf of the University.
  • Before sending your email, re-read the message to ensure it conveys the message you intended.
  • Always sign off your email with your name and contact details to confirm you are the sender. Email clients generally have facilities for automatically adding a standard signature to every email.
  • If you do not want your message to be passed on to others, it is best to say so in the body of the message.
  • Email is not secure, and it is difficult to tell when someone other than the intended recipient has read the email. Therefore, avoid sending particularly sensitive or confidential information by email. On occasions when it necessary to send something confidential via email, you are recommended to include the standard email confidentiality notice text at the top of the message. Consider sending the information as a password-protected (i.e. encrypted) attachment to an email and phone the recipient with the password. See: How to encrypt a Microsoft Office document.
  • Others can get to read the email if it has been wrongly addressed, or via unauthorised access to the sender or recipient mailboxes. This can be facilitated by leaving yourself logged into your mailbox at an unattended PC. Therefore, always lock the PC or log out of webmail when leaving your PC unattended.
  • Attachments can increase the size of an email considerably. Consider whether it would be better to copy the text of the file into the body of the email, or put the file on a shared drive or web page and send a link instead. If you decide to send the attachment, consider whether the recipient will have the same software as you to be able to open the file, and whether the file may too large to be delivered. (Different mail servers place different size limits on emails. UEA Exchange will accept emails up to 10MB in size.)
  • If you are not using a standard UEA Desktop PC, then ensure you use a PC with a virus scanner installed.

Responding to email Responding to email

  • Staff should not feel it is essential they respond to email immediately even when not in the office unless it is part of their role.
  • Use Reply to All carefully and only where all recipients of the original message need to see your response.
  • Take care with responses to emails received via email lists. You may intend to send the response to the original sender rather than the whole list.
  • When replying to a message, only quote relevant parts of the email thread. This is particularly important where the original message includes previous correspondence.
  • Pause before sending the message, particularly if your response was drafted in anger. Email arguments are difficult to resolve and are better addressed through a meeting.
  • At UEA, account descriptions displayed on emails are expressed in the form "[Last Name] [First Name] ([Dept])", e.g. "Smith Louise (SCI)". When replying to someone you do not know well, take care to select the correct name part.
  • Do not pass on virus warning emails. These are almost certainly hoaxes.
  • Do not respond to any email requesting supply of your username and password. These are phishing emails intending to harvest personal details from you and use your personal account to send spam email.
  • Be wary of any email providing a link to a web site prompting for login details. These may also be phishing emails, and the web site may not be genuine. Always check the web address, and, better still, manually enter the known (correct) web address rather than use the supplied link to visit the site.
  • If forwarding on an email, provide a summary and explanation at the top of the message to explain why you are forwarding it on and to give some context to the discussion.
  • Be careful opening email attachments even when appearing to come from someone you know. This is the most common way of distributing viruses. 

Managing your email Managing your email

  • All email systems at UEA provide a limited amount of storage space in the mailbox, and therefore emails need to be managed.
  • Delete emails which are no longer required.
  • Archive emails which you would like to keep to refer back to - both those you have sent as well as received See: Create Personal Folders for archiving content in Outlook.
  • Check email as often as needed to be effective in your role, but also set aside time to concentrate on handling emails so that the rest of the day is available for other activities. Consider turning off desktop popups which appear when new message arrive so you are not distracted from any tasks in hand.
  • When you have planned absences from work, you should make it known that you will be away and will address any requests on your return. You can set up an automated out of office reply. See: How to set up out of office and email forwarding for Outlook Web Access. Where staff have unplanned absences because of e.g. sickness, a Head of Department or Head of School may request the IT helpdesk to provide access to the mailbox to progress any urgent matters. Staff should not be asked to reveal their passwords to facilitate reading email sent to a UEA address (see Conditions of Computer Use).
  • Take care with accessing email via mobile devices. Secure your device so that unauthorised users cannot view your email. Should you lose a mobile device configured for accessing UEA email, contact the IT Helpdesk. It may be possible to effect a remote wipe to protect its contents.

Security and compliance Security and compliance

  • The University has an email policy as part of the Conditions of Computer Use which all members of the University must abide by. It lays down what should and should not be transmitted by email and the permitted levels of personal use.
  • UEA reserves the right to examine email messages without authorisation from the sender or recipient where there is reason to suspect a breach of regulations, or on user request where there are reasonable grounds to do so (see Conditions of Computer Use).
  • The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) applies to computerised records including email. We have guidance to help with compliance. Staff should not retain email messages containing personal information for longer than the information is required. The length of time an email with personal data should be retained is dependent upon the purposes for which the information was obtained. Once this purpose is complete, the email should be deleted.
  • Under DPA emails may be released as part of a subject access request, and under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) emails may be released into the public domain in response to a request for information.
  • Do not pass on emails which infringe the copyright of another person.
  • Anyone with access to your username and password can access your mailbox, read your emails, and send emails as if from you. Therefore, do not disclose your username and password to anyone.
  • If you have authorised someone to read and manage your mailbox (e.g. your personal assistant), add a note to this effect to your email signature so that those receiving emails from you are aware of this arrangement.
  • It is contrary to University regulations to share your username and password (see Conditions of Computer Use). Exchange supports delegated access to mailboxes so that emails may be sent on another's behalf, and this does not require sharing of usernames and passwords.
  • It is not possible to prove that a message has been received and read by the intended recipient. Email is therefore not a suitable means for conveying messages with contractual or disciplinary content where proof of receipt may be required.
  • Email is insecure. Anything you send can be read by others (unless you protect its contents through use of encryption).
  • Anything you receive may not have originated from where it appears to come from, as 'From:' addresses can be easily forged. Therefore never disclose anything confidential such as your password or credit card details in an email message.
  • Unsolicited mail should not receive serious attention until and unless the sender’s identity and authenticity of the mail have been verified.
  • GISP6 in the General Information Security Policy covers use of email. GISP18 gives the policy on encryption of data including files and email.
  • Use of email at UEA is also subject to external regulations laid down by the government and our service suppliers.