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ARCHIVED: How do I send an email message to a group of people?

Note: At Indiana University, if you are considering mass mailing, be aware that the University Information Policy Office (UIPO) distinguishes between administrative mailings and mail that is for interpersonal communication, and treats the two differently. For details, see What is IU's policy concerning mass mailing via email?

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Sending mail to multiple addresses

On most email systems, you can put several addresses on the "To:" line. For some systems, when you do this you will need to separate the addresses by commas or spaces, depending upon the system; in Outlook, you need to separate them with a semicolon. Some systems require you to put each address on a separate line. However, if you are sending email to a large number of people, you should place all but one of the addresses on the blind carbon copy ("Bcc:") line of the message. If the addresses are on the "Bcc:" line rather than the "To:" and "Cc:" lines, a reply to the message will go only to the original sender, not the entire list of recipients. When replies go to all the original recipients, each reply is also considered a mass mailing. For more information about how to use the "Bcc:" line, check the help for your email software, or see ARCHIVED: In Outlook, how do I use the "Bcc:" field? and ARCHIVED: In Outlook Express for Windows, how do I use the "Bcc..." header line when I'm sending an email message?

Distribution lists

You can also set up a distribution list. Several methods exist for setting up a distribution list. Your choice of method will depend on the list's size and what you intend to do with it. If you wish to send messages regularly to a group of people, you can create a personal distribution list. If you have a very large list, or if you'd like people other than yourself to be able to send mail to the list, you may need to use mailing list software such as LISTSERV.

Personal distribution lists

You can create personal distribution lists using your email client's address book. For instance, you could create a list named "Family" containing the following addresses:

astudent@indiana.edu sally@ibm.com dad@comcast.net mom@purdue.edu

Then, to send a message to all four members of your family, you would address the message to:

Family

Check the help for your email software for more information about creating and using a mailing list. (For information about creating a mailing list in Microsoft Outlook, see ARCHIVED: In Microsoft Outlook, how can I categorize my Contacts and send email using the categories?) Such personal distribution lists are by far the easiest to manage. You can set them up and make any changes yourself, and the commands you enter will take effect right away.

Note: When you create distribution lists using a desktop email program installed on your computer, your lists are usually stored only on your computer (the exception is Outlook configured to use IU Exchange). This is called a client-side distribution list, and it is available only from your computer. When you make lists using IU Webmail on the Cyrus mail system, or using Outlook in the IU Exchange environment, they are stored on the mail server, which you can then access from any other computer on the Internet. This is called a server-side distribution list.

LISTSERV mailing lists

You can subscribe individuals to a LISTSERV list if you have each person's email address, or individuals can subscribe themselves; see ARCHIVED: At IU, how do I request a new LISTSERV list?

Email tools in Oncourse CL

Oncourse CL offers several tools for managing email among participants in your course or project site. See In Oncourse, what tools are available for managing site communication?

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Last modified on July 02, 2010.

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