E-mail is the easiest way to deliver consistent, timely information to staff—and often is the most misused.

Good for

Departments where most staff have regular access to e-mail


  • A consistent message about an issue can be quickly shared with many staff.
  • It is fast and inexpensive.
  • The message can be prepared in advance and scheduled for delivery at a later time or date.
  • Attachments can be included or links provided to additional online information.
  • Recipients can respond to the message (this can be turned off as circumstances warrant).


  • It can be perceived as too much information, or worse, corporate spam.
  • E-mail is impersonal.
  • It is easy for the sender, not always appropriate for the audience.
  • It benefits only staff who work in close proximity to a computer; a highway worker might hear news on the radio before seeing an e-mail on the topic.
  • Some managers like to hide behind e-mail.
  • It is easy to use e-mail to be, or appear to be, rude or discourteous.


E-mail is a two-edged sword. On the plus side, it’s cheap and it’s easy to quickly send the same information to a lot of people. On the minus side, it’s cheap and it’s easy to quickly send the same information to a lot of people.

E-mail is excellent for sending concise, timely information. Like web pages, e-mail is scanned rather than read closely, and the writer needs to keep that in mind.

Subject lines should be concise and provide enough detail to let the recipient quickly assess the importance of the message and how it should be handled. “Corporate Restructuring Update” is much more informative than “Message from the President” “A Message from the President to Update Staff on Corporate Restructuring” is too long; only the first half would show up in an e-mail inbox.

If you are writing to many people who do not know one another, especially people outside of UBC, consider using BCC instead of CC. The reader of a BCC will know to whom the message originally went, and that they got a copy, no more.

Writing in capital letters is considered SHOUTING; it makes your message harder to read.

E-mail readers cannot hear your phrasing or your tone or read other clues such as expression or body language. If you’re saying something funny, let the reader know explicitly that you are joking so they will know that you’re not being serious.

Consider that the person on the receiving end may not be the only person reading your message. It may be read by any staff who have Read access on the recipient’s e-mail account or by family, friends, or strangers if e-mail is accessed away from the office.

And yes, spelling counts.

Next steps

  • Inform the reader what, if any, action or response you need, or when more information will be forthcoming.