Many offices use email as their primary tool of communication and information-sharing. The following guidelines will ensure that university records created or received on email are managed, destroyed and preserved in accordance with the University’s Policy on Archives and Records Management and the Victoria University Records Schedule.
It is important to deal with your email in a timely and accurate manner. Leaving email un-managed can lead to:
- Insufficient memory for email storage.
- Inefficient retrieval and possible loss of valuable email.
- Increased legal vulnerability and risk in the event of legal discovery of electronic evidence.
- Use your UTORmail account for all University business.
- Limit personal emailing from your university account.
- Do not merge personal and university communications in a single email message.
- Use a meaningful subject line that describes the content and context of the email message.
- Limit message contents to one subject per message, to facilitate easy filing for your recipient.
- Keep messages brief and business-like and avoid personal comments.
- Make privacy and confidentiality a priority.
- Do not include any content in an email you would not want publicly disclosed.
- Limit the inclusion of others’ personal information.
- Close your email account when you are away from your desk.
- Do not disclose your email password to others.
- Avoid unnecessary forwarding of email.
- Include this postscript underneath your signature at the end of all business email:
This email may contain confidential and/or privileged information for the sole use of the intended recipient. Any review or distribution by others is strictly prohibited unless explicitly specified in the text above. If you have received this email in error, please contact the sender and delete all copies.
In order to preserve its integrity (its ability to act as evidence of an action), an email must remain intact. An email record includes:
- The message
- The contextual information – the sender, recipient, time, date, etc.
- Any attachments
After reading an email, make sure to file it as soon as possible:
- If it is a transitory record or non-record: Delete the message once no longer needed.
- If it is a University record: Save the message in your email folders, which should be constructed based on your office’s file plan. This allows you to dispose of the email according to the Victoria University Records Schedule.
Tip: Create filters to reroute incoming mail to appropriate folders for more efficient management. This works well for listservs that generate excessive amounts of email that can be read more easily at a later time.
Many employees quickly run out of storage space in their UTORmail. Rather than delete important email, individuals should use the “archive” function of their email software to move email messages and attachments to local folders.
- When to archive: “Archive” email folders when you no longer need regular access to their contents, but must retain them according to the Victoria University Records Schedule.
- Where is the archive? “Archived” messages will exist only on your local computer. You will not be able to access them from the internet, using a different computer (e.g. at home).
- Auto-archiving: You may use an “auto-archive” function to automate this process (example: archiving all messages more than 3 months old).
- Organizing the archive: Keep the same folder structure in both your local online folders. You may subdivide folders by year to allow for easy disposition (see next section).
- Backing up the archive: Check with your office’s IT support to ensure the local folder is backed up regularly.
More information on archiving is available from the U of T Information Commons. Visit this site and choose the email software you are using for more information on ‘archiving’ email to a local folder.
Disposition of Email
Identify transitory email and delete frequently. Remember to regularly delete the "trash" folder in your email.
Periodically review email saved in folders and follow the Victoria University Records Schedule for their retention and disposition.
Note: The Victoria University Archives is not currently equipped to preserve emails in electronic form. Until this is possible, please print and file emails that have archival value.
Last updated: December 3, 2014