IT Email Communications Best Practices

Email communication theory is largely different from email communication reality. If messages include phishy email characteristics they can be skipped over and miss their intended audience. Plus, they cause concern for the reader who, instead of focusing on the message, focuses on the validity of the email.

Additionally, if emails are hastily written, include too much information (or don't include enough) they can be written off. A balance has to be struck and unfortunately, it's an art, not a science. To help senders with this process, ISO has assembled some best practices to assist the IT community in sending emails. These guidelines are especially important if the communication is requesting an action to be performed.

Ask the 5 W's

  • What is the meaning of the message?
    • Does the reader need to take action?
    • If it is informational, what do they need to know? 
  • Who is the audience?
    • Who will be impacted?
    • Wide-sweeping communications cause people to ignore future messages.
  • Where is the change happening?
    • Is it a service? A platform? A website? A physical location?
  • When is the change occurring?
    • Is there a deadline the reader needs to know about? 
  • Why should they care?
    • How will this impact them?
    • Will service be down and they need to make plans?
    • Will this make work easier? 
  • And always HOW.
    • How will the reader get more information?
    • Who can they contact for questions? Always include a website, phone number, or email address.

Be succinct

Be concise, but not so much so that content is sacrificed for word count.

Provide structure

Break up long sentences into paragraphs. Create headings for longer sections. Use bold font and bullet points to call out important items. If multiple communications are needed on a subject try to keep them consistent in layout. Check out the example below.

Spell Check

Mistakes will be made, but unfortunately so will judgments. Be sure to go over the email for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Poor attention to detail in the email may negatively influence the reader's perception of the service, team, or product.

Exemplary IT Email communication:


The bSecure team is pleased to launch the bSecure Remote Access VPN (Virtual Private Network) service, using the Palo Alto Networks GlobalProtect software. This service allows you to securely access the UC Berkeley network from outside of campus and encrypts the information sent through the network. This service replaces the Cisco AnyConnect VPN service.

Take Action: If you are currently using Cisco AnyConnect VPN, please install the bSecure Remote Access VPN before Sept. 30, 2019, when the Cisco VPN service will be retired.

How to Install

If your computer has managed Berkeley Desktop for Windows or macOS, you can install the "GlobalProtect VPN" from the Self Service portal.

If you have admin access to your computer, download and install the GlobalProtect VPN client. Select detailed installation instructions based on your operating system:

What to Expect

  • Unlike the Cisco VPN, the bSecure VPN will require you to authenticate using login using your CalNet credentials. You will login with your CalNet ID and passphrase and do the 2-Step (using Duo) to connect.
  • Similar to the current VPN, you will need to pick a gateway (tunnel) when you connect. The default option is Split Tunnel, which most of you will use. If you are accessing Library journals however, use the Library Access and Full Tunnel option.
  • View all gateway / tunnel options and portal options.

Why change VPN services?

  • The Cisco VPN software is at end-of-life and will no longer be supported.
  • The bSecure VPN is more secure: it requires you to use your CalNet ID and 2-Step to login similar to how you log into most applications on campus.
  • The bSecure VPN service is faster than the Cisco VPN.


If you encounter any issues, please contact IT Client Services:

Or check out the Knowledge Base.

Thank you for your patience and partnership as we continue to make improvements to better serve our campus community.


Larry Conrad, Associate Vice Chancellor for IT and Chief Information Officer
Jeremy Rosenberg, Chief Information Security Officer

Related Links: bSecure Remote VPN | bSecure VPN FAQ’s | Download GlobalProtect Software