Email Top Tips

Be aware that email is not secure

Always check that you are using the correct email addresses

Delay sending your email

Protect your emails from unauthorized access

Emails may be accessible under the Freedom of Information Act – treat them as formal records of University business

Use clear subjects/titles and make it easy for others to manage their emails

Beware of spam and phishing emails

Be careful when sending messages to multiple recipients

Always use a University email account for University business

Further advice and useful tips are available in the July 2014 Ouch! Newsletter

Be aware that email is not secure

You should be aware that email is not a secure way of sharing personal and confidential information. You should consider whether an alternative method provides better security, for example you may save confidential information to a secure shared drive. If you do use email consider using encryption. The University's Information Security Policy provides a range of policies and standards to help protect personal and confidential information.

Always check that you are using the correct email addresses

When sending email messages always double-check that you are using the correct email address. The University’s Global Address List in Outlook contains both staff and students and there are instances of people with the same name. You can now filter the address book to show only staff or students, but remember it will default back to showing all users. It can be very easy to send a message to the wrong person. If this has occurred, try to recall the message immediately (in Outlook: Open the sent message, select Actions - Other Actions - Recall this message), follow up with an apology and ask the incorrect recipient to delete the message. If the message contains personal or confidential information you should contact the IT Help Desk.

Tips for identifying the correct address:

  • Be careful when using the autocomplete function for email addresses.
  • Use the address list in Outlook to filter by staff or students.
  • Check the additional details in the address list (department, phone number).
  • Either cross reference with information on the University website or phone ahead to verify the address.
  • If you are unsure about whether you have identified the right person do not send the message.

Delay Sending your email

Outlook provides a facility to delay sending your email, you can set a rule to delay all messages by x minutes, giving you extra time to realise that you've sent it to the wrong person or forgotten to attach a file.

You can set a rule to delay all messages or individually select messages to be delayed. Once you have changed your settings messages will sit in your Outbox for the specified period of time before being sent, if you open or amend a message in your outbox you will need to resend the message.

Protect your emails from unauthorized access

To help prevent unauthorized access to your emails and other records you should always lock your computer screen when away from your desk.  This allows you to keep all the current applications open and running during a temporary absence from your computer.  In Windows you can press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and select Lock Computer, which will lock your computer until you enter your password.  You should never write down or share your password with anyone; Exeter IT staff will never ask you for your password.

Emails may be accessible under the Freedom of Information Act – treat them as formal records of University business

Emails are often considered informal, but they are subject to the same laws and regulations as other forms of correspondence and may be accessed under Freedom of Information or other legislation.  Messages should be composed in a professional, clear and concise manner.  You should regularly file or delete messages (both those sent and received) in the same way that you would treat paper records. Keeping all emails is mismanagement and needlessly uses resources.

Use clear subjects/titles and make it easy for others to manage their emails

Where possible, only refer to one subject per email. If you have multiple issues to write about it is better to separate messages, which can then be managed individually.  Always enter a meaningful subject field. Messages can be prioritised by indicating either ‘Non-Urgent’ or ‘Urgent’ in the subject, or by changing the level of importance in Outlook.

Beware of spam and phishing emails

Be suspicious when an email asks you to provide personal or financial details, even if the message appears to come from a trusted source.  Exeter IT provide more detailed information about spam and phishing.

Be careful when sending messages to multiple recipients

Only send a message to someone if they need to receive it.  Be careful when replying to messages; don’t reply to everyone unless you really want everyone to see your response.  If sending emails to large groups you can (and should) use the blind carbon copy (bcc) field to ensure that the recipients cannot access each other’s email addresses.

Always use a University email account for University business

University business should be conducted using University email accounts to ensure that all records are backed up and accessible.  Using a personal account does not circumvent the requirements of the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts.

IT facilities are provided to support research, learning and teaching, and administration, some personal use is permitted, but the use of IT facilities or information for commercial gain must have the explicit prior permission of the designated authority. For further information on this please refer to the University’s IT Regulations.

Further information:

Information Security Policy

IT regulations

Records Management guidance

Spam and Phishing

Top tips for safe computing