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Weekly Computer Tip # 71
12 July 2004
updated 5 January 2015

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Netiquette when emailing a large group of people (Microsoft Outlook)

Netiquette is etiquette practiced or advocated in electronic communication over a computer network. The most important rule of email netiquette is "Think before you post".

This week I'd like you to think before you post email messages to a large group of people. If you use the To: or the Cc: field you will send an e-mail that has all its recipients listed. Not only can it be really annoying having to scroll through screenfulls of names, but - more importantly - if the message falls into wrong hands (don't we all sometimes forward a message, that might get forwarded again, and again and again; you get the picture) the email addresses might be used for commercial mailing lists, adding to the epidemic of junk email. However,

Did you know ...

Using the Bcc: (Blind Carbon Copy) field the recipients' e-mail addresses are not visible. If you want you can give a "description" in the To: field similar to the one I use for this tip, i.e. "weekly tip subscribers".

Here's how:

  1. Create a message as normal.
  2. In the To: field enter the name you want recipients to see, followed by your own email address in between <> brackets. The To: field should (for example) look like this: weekly tip subscribers <karen@roem.co.uk>
  3. Enter the recipient email addresses in the Bcc box, separated by commas or select recipient names from your Contacts list by clicking on the Bcc button. Alternatively, enter the name of the distribution list in the Bcc field. (If the Bcc field is not displayed, you can select it from the Options tab.)
  4. Compose and send the message as normal.

The email message will be sent with the sender's email address in the From field, addressed to "weekly tip subscribers" (or whatever name you specified in step 2). Hiding your friends' and colleagues' email addresses is common courtesy and good netiquette.

Until next week.

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PS I’m committed to sharing the best of what I know with others so please don’t keep me a secret. If you enjoyed today’s tip, please forward it to anyone you feel may benefit. Alternatively, feel free to reprint it (with full copyright and subscription information) in your newsletters and message boards.

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July 2004