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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Email etiquette at MMLL

All members of the Faculty are required to adopt these simple points of good practice and etiquette.

Remember that...

  • The laws relating to written communication apply equally to email, including defamation, copyright, obscenity, fraud, freedom of information and discrimination.
  • Nothing is confidential – so write accordingly. Freedom of Information and subject access requests require the provision of all information held by the University relating to the subject of the request (subject to certain exemptions). This includes emails, even if marked as confidential or blind copied (bcc).
  • Email messages, when forwarded, can be invisibly edited.
  • Emails sent bearing your University email address are equivalent to sending letter-headed University correspondence. They reflect on the reputation of the University and may be interpreted as representing its views.
  • Email should not be used as a substitute for other forms of communication – face-to-face or phone may be more appropriate. It is easy to become overloaded with emails.
  • Tone is easy to misconstrue. Avoid writing anything that could be construed as rude or curt. IF YOU TYPE LIKE THIS, for example, people may think you are shouting at them.

Think before you send


Writing emails

  • Try to check your email reasonably regularly during the working day.
  • Remember that it is entirely reasonable not to receive a reply from someone for up to 3 working days, and there is no expectation that anyone should send or reply to emails during evenings, weekends, and holidays.
  • Keep it simple and be brief. Email is good for factual information, but not for matters that require tact and diplomacy. People are busy – don’t add to their information overload. If you have a lot to say, pick up the phone or ask for a meeting.
  • Proof-read messages. You may find it help to add the recipient of the email last to ensure you check your message before sending.
  • Ensure that emails target the correct audience. Select and identify the group with care.
  • Clearly identify any action required, by whom and by when. People tend to scan or skim-read emails.

Replying to, and forwarding, emails

  • Use the ‘Reply to all’ and ‘CC’ options sparingly. Only use them if the information is vital or if the recipients are required to act.
  • When replying to or forwarding an email with comments, include some of the original messages for context, but be selective; don’t reproduce the entire original email if it is long. Always check the full thread of emails before forwarding to ensure the appropriateness of the messages being sent. If possible, check with the original sender whether you can forward on their message, particularly if the topic is sensitive. If you forward an email for someone else’s response, tell the enquirer from whom they may expect a reply.

Last updated: 6 October 2022