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Category Information & Communications Technology
Type Guideline
Approved by Director Information Technology Services, 1 November 2015
Date Guideline Took Effect 1 August 2016
Last approved revision 
Sponsor Director, Information Technology Services
Responsible officer Customer Services Manager, Information Technology Services

Please note that compliance with University Guidelines is expected in normal circumstances, and any deviation from Guidelines – which should only be in exceptional circumstances – needs to be justifiable.


The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure effective and appropriate use of University-wide email lists.

Organisational scope

The guidelines apply to anyone sending email to a University-wide email list.


University-wide email list
An email list that can be sent to by anyone with a University of Otago staff email account and with membership that spans the University or a University campus. The membership of most of these lists is functional rather than individual (e.g. department email addresses). The list of University-wide email lists is available on the ITS website (


1. Usage

  1. University-wide email lists are provided for the purpose of circulating University of Otago-specific information that needs to be communicated across the University (e.g., to Heads of Departments, all departments or all departments on a specific campus). Examples of such communication include:
    1. University events, announcements and invitations
    2. administrative information relating to University operations
    3. deadline information for University processes/events
    4. service notices
    5. campus-wide policy changes.
  2. The University-wide email lists are not to be used for other purposes, such as:
    1. commercial announcements or invitations
    2. club information or announcements
    3. personal messages or requests
    4. anything not concerned with the mission/operation of the University.
  3. The “reply to list messages” setting for these lists is set to reply to the sender of the message and not the list. Take care when replying to email messages from the list that you do not include the list address.
  4. University email is covered by the Official Information Act 1982 and is therefore discoverable.

2. Audience

  1. Each of the University-wide email lists has a specific membership (audience). These are described on the ITS website ( Your message should be sent to the list that is appropriate to the content of your message. For example, information of relevance only to departments on the Dunedin campus should be sent to the otago-depts list and not all-depts.
  2. Before sending an email to a University-wide email list, please consider whether the information contained within it is of real importance to a large group of recipients.

3. Message Content

  1. Before you send your email, carefully consider its purpose. What do you want people to know/do as a result of the email? This will help you structure the content (subject line and message content) to improve readability.
  2. The Subject line should:
    1. always be used – never leave it blank
    2. succinctly describe the topic of your email. Your audience will make decisions about the relevance and importance of your email based on your subject line.
  3. The message content should be succinct and clear – tell people what you want them to know and do so as simply as possible:
    1. state the purpose of the email in the first paragraph
    2. if action is required, make it clear what that is, by whom and when
    3. use formatting to aid readability (e.g., headings, short paragraphs and bullet points)
    4. use words that your audience will understand – avoid jargon and acronyms
    5. include the sender's contact details.
  4. Remember to read through and spell-check your message before you send it and double check that any required attachments have been added.

4. Message Attachments

  1. Email attachments when sent to a large number of people can take up a lot of space in the University's email system.
  2. If you need to refer to or circulate documents associated with your email, consider:
    1. linking to them on the University website. For email going to the University-wide lists it's highly likely that associated information is or should be on the University website.
    2. uploading them to the University's Mail Express File Drop service - especially if they are large (i.e., over 1MB in total).

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of these guidelines or need further clarification, contact the

Customer Services Manager, ITS
Tel +64 3 479 8568

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