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​Managing Email Communications



When managing email conversations you should try to restrict the message to one subject at a time and always reply with the original text. Do not annotate the original message or stray significantly from the original subject. This makes it easier to maintain an audit trail, assess where the email string should be saved and reduces the risk of:

  1. The message not being read/information being missed by the recipient/s
  2. Personal/confidential/sensitive information being sent/received in error



When managing email conversations with one or more people, the following should be observed:

• Restrict the message to one topic and try not to stray from it.  Messages containing more than one topic are difficult to file and manage.
• If the subject changes significantly within a message string, you should begin a new string and change the title when you respond.
• Always reply with the original text thereby ensuring a management trail. This provides context to your response and allows a complete record of the exchange. Longer conversations can be cut off so that your response contains only relevant information, preferably only the last message to which you are responding.
• If a conversation needs to include others part way through start a new message with the relevant information or arrange a meeting (see next point)
• If the string is becoming or is likely to become unmanageably long consider arranging a meeting with the recipients/contributors to discuss the issue/subject. Try NOT to let message strings develop beyond ten (10) messages as this increases the risk of:
                                              o The message not being read/information being missed by the recipient/s
                                              o Personal/confidential/sensitive information being sent/received in error
• Do not annotate the original text in your response.  Any formatting to distinguish your comments from the original text can easily be lost if any alteration is made to the original message format.


Distributing "bulk" or "mass" emails to a group e.g. "All Staff"

Each service area should have a procedure instituted by the manager to ensure that:

• Only appropriately qualified and experienced staff have permission to send out bulk/mass emails

• There are adequate checks in place with regards to the content of the message e.g. no hidden or embedded attachments containing confidential or personal information


Email attachments

Email attachments take up the bulk of storage space on the email system and should be avoided wherever possible. Wherever possible a hyperlink to the file should be included in the body of the email message – avoid sending attachments if the recipient has access to the file on SharePoint or another shared network area. If there will be ongoing work or collaboration consider setting up a SharePoint site for this purpose. Sending attachments increases the chances of multiple copies of the same document/record being stored across the University’s network and of multiple versions being created and worked on. The proliferation of copies of email attachments not only takes up valuable server storage space, but also slows down the email system (Outlook).