Record Keeping

Unlike telephone and face-to-face conversations, email "conversations" provide a built-in record of what you've asked for and what information you've received. By saving a copy of the messages you send, you can keep track of exactly what you asked for and when. By keeping a copy of messages you receive, you can remind yourself when it's time to follow up a request for information with a second email message or a telephone call. Many email users keep their email archives organized by project or topic to help themselves remember to follow up on certain tasks. To read examples about archiving email, choose either of the items below:

Archiving Announcements

You may decide, for instance, that you should announce an upcoming campus event every three or four days for two weeks before the event, with a final reminder the morning of the event. By saving your messages, you can be sure that you are sending accurate information each time you send it. And you can be sure that you’ve met your schedule.

Moreover, if someone loses one of these "general distribution announcements" and asks you to repeat the message, you have a copy in your email archive to send instantly.

Archiving Documents

Especially as you work with committees or groups, email records can be helpful in showing how a final document or proposal evolved or who argued which positions along the way. As you work with a group, you can keep all the messages from that group together and create the "history" of the group’s activity. If you’re writing a document, email records can show the drafts of the document and who commented on what parts of the document.

Such email records not only provide you with accountability but can also head off group problems. If a group member objects to one part of the final proposal, your records might show that the person raised no objection when the proposal first appeared.

If your email system doesn’t allow you to keep messages indefinitely for record keeping, then you can save email messages as text files in your word processing program.

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