Conscribed List Procedures

1. Messages must be prepared in plain text or HTML.

Senders are strongly encouraged to embed hyperlinks in the message body to link to documents or web pages as an alternative to e-mail attachments.   

Message size limitations are utilized to maintain acceptable system performance. Messages without attachments should not exceed one megabyte (1 MB) in size. Messages with attachments should be limited to five megabytes (5 MB).

2. Do not put textual content in images embedded in emails.

Images should be reserved for decoration primarily (logo, emblem, picture). Any image that has context related to the communication must have descriptive alt text explaining its link to the main content of the email. Do not use images that contain more than one sentence of alt text.

3. Messages are transmitted immediately when sent and cannot be recalled.

Senders should establish appropriate internal control procedures to prevent transmission of inaccurate or potentially embarrassing messages.

4. Messages of an emergency nature (e.g., health and safety issues) and messages of broad media interest should be coordinated through the University News Service before transmission.

Because such messages are also frequently transmitted through other media outlets, they should be forwarded through the University News Service to assure consistency of the message.

5. The following text footers should be included at the end of each message sent to a conscribed list.

The font style should be Calibri type, gray color, and 8-point size. The TSUS member statement (below) is an image file.

TSUS Member Statment

This message was sent to all members of a mailing list established and maintained by Texas State University. Your inclusion in this list results from your relationship and status with the University and is not optional.

6. Only approved email boxes can send emails to conscribed lists.

Requests to enable a mailbox to send to any of the conscribed lists must be approved by VPIT. Requests should be routed to VPIT through the requestor’s Vice President’s office. At minimum, this takes one business day to process.

Conscribed Email List Best Practices

1. All staff charged with drafting, reviewing, and/or sending messages to conscribed lists should become familiar with this document. Questions should be directed to the IT Assistance Center (ITAC).

2. Develop internal control procedures to avoid sending embarrassing, misleading, and/or inappropriate message content. Prepare and maintain step-by-step procedures for drafting, reviewing, combining, and transmitting messages. Include multiple and diverse persons in this review process.

3. Create and follow an “email review checklist” addressing potential sources of problems. Some ideas for your list:

  •  Is the message is formatted properly?
    • Do not use justified text as it can hamper screen reader accessibility
    •  Font sizes of 14 and above are advised for persons with low or impaired vision
    •  Consider color choices and refrain from using colors outside of the University Marketing approved color palette
  •  Is the message free of unnecessary attachments?
  •  Is image clear and a size that fits email protocols? (see No. 4 below)
  • Check that hyperlinks function properly
    •  Hyperlinks MUST be descriptive; no “click here” or “read more” link text as those are unhelpful for users of adaptive technology
  •  All details are accurate
    • Dates
    • Days of week
    • Times
    • Contact information
    • E-mail links
    • Spelling
  • Make sure the message does not contain sensitive, confidential, or inappropriate material
  • Content should be appropriate and pertinent to the target audience. Often a smaller, specialized list would be more appropriate. Make sure the target list is correct. (Are you sending the message to the right people?)
  •  Message cannot be interpreted as an inappropriate or illegal use of university information resources for personal gain or commercial purpose
  • Messages have been appropriately combined to avoid multiple messages, or conflicting messages, to the same target audience
  • The message content is important enough to justify its distribution to a conscribed list, a list for which there is no “opt-out” option
  • The appropriate mailbox in Outlook is selected for sending the message.
  • The mailbox for the person submitting the message and the mailbox the message is sent from should be blind copied on the outgoing e-mail. Double check, through Outlook, that correct recipients are being included.

4. Use only clear, in-focus images. It’s best to use only one image per email, if possible, because the size of the email often affects how easy it is for others to receive and open it. Images should be no more than 600 pixels wide, as that is the industry standard for message width. All images must include alt-text.

5. Allow adequate time for editorial review, adjustments, and corrections. Initiate and enforce a deadline for receipt of email requests. Use your checklist and follow the rule of having multiple reviewers even in times when the message must be rushed. If the message is not urgent in nature, it’s best to take your time and make sure you get it correct before sending. It is vital that you ensure the message’s accuracy and completeness before it is sent.
6. The best times to send messages are first thing in the morning, or right before or right after lunch, Tuesday through Thursday. Sending emails too late in the day, or on Friday, often means the audience is unavailable to read your message.

7. Choose the subject line with care. Choose subject line text that accurately and concisely describes the message content. Make sure the subject line is capitalized appropriately, like a book title. Do not use all caps in the subject line.

8. Send a test email to yourself and others who are responsible for the email before you send the final email to the conscribed list. Often seeing your message in a real email format will expose mistakes or overlooked aspects, such as bad subject lines, garbled greetings, and blurry images.

9. Messages to the same list should be combined whenever possible to avoid the appearance of spam and to maintain the effectiveness of conscribed lists as a communication mechanism.

10. Messages should be digitally accessible to all users.  To achieve this goal, please consider the following guidelines:

  • Descriptive alternative text (alt text) should be added to each image included in the message.
  • Using images of text should be discouraged, if possible.  A good example of an image of text is a flyer pasted into the body of an email. If the use of an image of text cannot be avoided, refer to Procedure 1 of this document for directions on creating an alternative resource for individuals with disabilities.
  • Utilize Microsoft’s Accessibility Check for messages created in Office products (Word, Outlook, etc.). The tool is available in the Review tab.