Email best practice

What to include

All emails to wide circulation groups should include the following elements:

Email content

  1. Email title /subject line
    Make it clear exactly what the email relates to, in as few words as possible. Include ‘for action:’ or ‘urgent/incident:’ at the start of the title, where appropriate)
     
  2. From
    Include in the body text the individual (and job title) or team the email is sent from – and the UAS section.
    Note: if replies need to be directed to an address other than the one used to send the email, use ‘Direct replies to’ in Outlook options to ensure responses are directed appropriately.  
     
  3. To:
    Also, include in the body text the job roles and / or the mailing list the email is being sent to (including which groups are receiving the information for action, and which for information)
    Note: when sending the email, you should use the ‘to’ field for those groups that need to take action; and ‘cc’ for those who are receiving the email for information.
    Bcc should only be used where you wish to maintain the confidentiality of large numbers of individuals. Please note that many Sympa lists will not deliver if they are included in the BCC field.
     
  4. Action(s) required
    Which individuals need to take action (including a clear summary of what the action is – by when, and whether it’s urgent) If there is no action required for specific groups, make clear the email is for information only.
     
  5. Body text
  • The first line of your email and should outline the purpose of the email – ideally in fewer than 20 words. E.g. ‘I am writing to seek your input into a draft policy on xxx.’ or ‘I am writing to provide you with new information on procedures.’
  • Write in an active tense, not passive.
  • Use plain English, avoid jargon, and do not use abbreviations and acronyms without first spelling them out.
  • Where possible, provide information about when there will be another update on this topic, or when more details will be available.
  • Emails should ideally be less than 400 words long. Any additional information should be included in documents on SharePoint or OneDrive or a webpage. Attachments may be added if this is not possible.
  1. Sharing information
    Make clear who the information in the email should or can be shared with. If appropriate, include suggested wording for colleagues to forward on, to make this process simpler.  If information needs to be forwarded on, include this in the actions list.
     
  2. Follow-up information
    Details about where to find further information. Ideally, this would be:
    • Website
    • Contact name and email address

Expand All

Subject: Changes to the University’s international travel policy


From: Chris Williams, Safety Officer, University Safety Office

To:

  • Departmental Safety Office contacts (for action)
  • Heads of Administration and Finance and Heads of Department (for information)

Actions required:  

  • HoDs, HAFs and Safety Officers to note that Safety Office approval for international travel is now only required for countries to which the FCDO advises against travel
  • Safety Officers to update local processes as appropriate, and consider using the template email below to notify staff and students about the change

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to let you know that Silver Group has agreed changes to the University’s international travel policy, effective immediately, following recent updates to Government guidance.  

Previously, all international travel on University business (apart from a small number of exceptions) required risk assessments to be reviewed by the University Safety Office. 

However, in light of changing Government guidance, Safety Office sign-off is now only required where staff or students plan to travel to a country or region to which the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises against travel (either because of COVID-19 concerns, or any other reason).   

Travel to countries where there are no FCDO travel advisories can now be reviewed in accordance with departmental approval processes (and without Safety Office review). This now includes most countries on the UK Government’s ‘amber list’. 

Other aspects of the University’s international travel policy – including the current requirement for Head of Department/Faculty Board Chair sign-off – are now under review and updated guidance will follow in the near future.  

Please share this information with staff and students taking part in international travel as appropriate. Optional suggested wording for an email can be found below for these purposes, should it be useful.

For more information, please go to the Safety Office website.

 

Best wishes,

Chris

Dr Chris Williams

University Safety Officer
Email: chris.williams@safety.ox.ac.uk
Tel: 01865 (2) 70809
Mob: 07981 70092

Information for those travelling overseas on University business

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to notify you about a change in process for staff and students travelling overseas on University business.

As you may know, previously all international travel (apart from a small number of exceptions) required risk assessments to be reviewed by the University Safety Office. 

However, in light of changing Government guidance, Safety Office sign-off is now only required where staff or students plan to travel to a country or region to which the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises against travel (either because of COVID-19 concerns, or any other reason).   

That means that if you are travelling to a country without an FCDO travel advisory, this will now be approved locally, and will not need additional Safety Office approval. This now includes most countries on the UK Government’s ‘amber list’. 

All international travel must still be approved by the department. If you are planning on international travel you should [insert local arrangements as appropriate]

Please let me know if you have any queries about this.

 

Best wishes,

[local contact name]