Department of Engineering

IT Services



Electronic mail is a very useful and convenient means of communication. It is however a good idea to bear in mind that

  • e-mail does not allow you to show tones of voice and so on; misunderstandings can arise and courtesy is at least as important as in face-to-face communication.
  • junk e-mail is at least as irritating as junk paper mail.
    • It is usually best to ignore junk mail; do not reply even if the sender offers to remove you from their lists if you do so.
    • Do not send copies of e-mail to long lists of recipients unless you have a very good reason to do so. See our policy on unsolicited e-mail.
    • The initiating or passing on of chain letters by e-mail is expressly forbidden on University systems.
  • if you're including the original message in your reply, edit the text to remove irrelevant material. It can be irritating to receive a 50-line message of which 49 are your own original text and the last line just says "No". The same applies when you're forwarding mail.
  • there is a convention that signatures should be limited to about four lines; lengthy signatures containing elaborate quotations and graphics usually only irritate the recipients.
  • Don't send people attachments unless you know that people can cope with the format you're sending them. In particular, don't send attachments to newsgroups.
  • if you need to send mail regularly to a long list of people, create a mailing list for the purpose, to avoid long lists of recipients at the top of everyone's copy.
  • computing resources, including the JANET network on which all e-mail going outside the University is carried, are made available only for "use in accordance with the aims of the University and Colleges"; in general this means for academic and educational purposes. Commercial activity is strictly forbidden unless specifically authorised. See the RULES for details.
  • e-mail is not exempt from the laws of libel and of copyright; you should not put someone else's text into an e-mail message without their permission.

The Computer Service documentation provides more details.

The Information Technology Syndicate publishes guidelines on sending bulk email. You should be aware of these guidelines and follow them when sending any non-personal mail.


  • Before submitting (posting) articles, read the "new user" articles in news.announce.newusers and follow their advice about netiquette (network etiquette). The rapid growth in newsgroups makes the established conventions.
  • The easiest way to learn how to use Newsgroups is to watch how others use it. Start reading the news and try to figure out what people are doing and why. After a couple of weeks you will start understanding why certain things are done and what things shouldn't be done.
  • Many newsgroups have very useful, regularly-updated FAQ's (articles containing Frequently Asked Questions, with answers), in part to avoid a continual stream of "standard" questions from newcomers. Read any relevant FAQs and do not post questions covered there!
  • When responding to an article, consider using electronic mail to the sender, if your reply will not be of general interest.
  • When posting followups, most newsreaders can include the text of the original article (conventionally with > before each line). Including relevant extracts from the original can be helpful, but it is very important to delete irrelevant quoted text.
  • Please remember that people all over the world are reading your words. Do not attack people if you cannot persuade them with your presentation of the facts. Screaming, cursing, and abusing others only serves to make people think less of you and less willing to help you when you need it.

If you receive harassing or offensive email and want to report it, contact abuse.