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Messages to multiple recipients

A Contact Group is used to send the same email to a number of people at the same time (previously called distribution lists). You can create as many different such lists as you require and label them accordingly, e.g., Project Team A, Heads of School, Trainees, etc.

  • Within Outlook on the Home tab, click 1) New Contact Group; 2) Enter a Name, and then 3) Add Members. Add Members offers 3 choices: You can 1) add members from your own Outlook Contacts or 2) from the Address Book (Global Address List) or you can 3) create a new email contact. When you choose to create a new email contact, in the Add New Member dialogue box, you may wish to Add this person to your contacts. Click OK.
  • Click Save and Close.

To create a message using a Contact Group
In Contacts, right click on the Contact Group, click Create, and then click E-mail.


  • You may have to use the Bcc: box to protect the list members’ confidentiality. Within the new message window, drag the list to the Bcc: box.
  • Expand the list to see the members (click on the + symbol). A warning message comes up; click OK. At this point you can select to delete any member of the list (this does not affect your original distribution list).
  • A list can have as many or as few members as you require. Once you have created the contact group you can edit to either add new members or remove (delete) members. Open the contact group. To delete: highlight the member and click Remove Member.

Alternatives to Contact Groups

Another solution can be to use Email Merge; this is a process where you can merge an Access or Excel list of contacts and send individualised messages to multiple recipients. This is described in the document Email Merge (7 page PDF) which uses  Data for Email Merge (XLSx file) This facility does not include sending attachments (see the section on Email Quota/Backup for alternatives to attachments).

The email service imposes limitations on the number of recipients who can be emailed at one time; this is to protect against spam. The limit is ~100 per minute. If messages need to be sent occasionally to large numbers of recipients this can be arranged with the email team.


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