For the record: How you say it is just as important

Editorial note: This article was updated in November 2021.

The tone of your communications is the tone of the record you are creating.

We all know that record-keeping is an important and non-discretionary obligation. Proper recording of University activities is important because it promotes

  • Understanding of decisions by showing what, when, how, who and why something was done, determined or implemented
  • Transparency and rigour around decisions and actions by explaining the rationale and factual basis.

Regardless of the device or channel used to communicate with others about University activities, all communications should be formally recorded. Such records “belong” to the University, not to individuals or local areas. All personnel must observe the University’s record management requirements.

The University relies on records to meet various internal or external obligations including

  • Reporting to senior managers, governance committees, funding bodies and regulators
  • Responding to external parties as a result of freedom of information requests, audits, investigations or litigation.

When communicating with others about the various activities of the University, you should always remember that your communication is a record and that those records will be viewed by others. How you communicate will invariably reflect on your position and professionalism – and potentially on the University.

Keep your communications respectful and take care with your expression. A simple rule is:

If you wouldn’t be comfortable making the same statement publicly - to a packed Bonython Hall while being recorded for YouTube broadcast - don’t communicate it!

University communications should be courteous, factual, prudent and sometimes cautious. Here are some tips to guide you:

Aim for


  • Discernment. Record what is important and leave out unimportant information or personal opinion
  • Personal opinions not relevant or necessary. Comments should be relevant to the issue in the context
  • Discretion. Respect the confidentiality of others and privacy issues
  • Criticism of individuals. Unless this is for a University purpose such as misconduct reports
  • Good judgement. Show appropriate regard for procedures and principles
  • Conversations in email form. Limit extraneous detail or personal information
  • Clarity and Courtesy. Respect the views and opinions of all involved even if there has been a disagreement
  • Exchanges of personal views other than as necessary. Unless these are pertinent to the issue, such as reporting an experience
  • Forming the rationale. What factors informed or influenced a decision, determination or action
  • “Venting” and expressing frustration. University records are never the appropriate forum.
  • Civil tone and expression. Take care with word choice and form of expression
Useful University websites:

University Records Services
Marketing and Communications Writing Style Guide
Freedom of Information website

Tagged in news & announcements, communications, records management