In this article I will show you how to use Microsoft Exchange Server’s built-in transport features to stamp users’ emails with fixed-text disclaimers, notices, warnings, etc.
Email disclaimer on Exchange 2016 and 2013
- In Exchange admin center go to mail flow, rules.
- Click the plus button and choose Apply disclaimers… .
- Provide a suitable name for your rule and define under what conditions it will activate (to be able to define multiple conditions and exceptions, click the More options… button at the bottom of the window).
- Click the Enter text… link and paste your disclaimer text in the resulting box.
- Select a fall back action (wrap, ignore or reject the message) in case the disclaimer cannot be added.
- Click Save (the default mode of a new rule is Enforce, meaning that it will be active after saving).
Email disclaimer on Exchange 2010 and 2007
There are minor differences in options available in these two Exchange editions, but essentially the steps are the same.
- In Exchange Management Console go to Organization Configuration, Hub Transport, Transport Rules (tab in middle pane), New Transport Rule… (right pane).
- The rule configuration steps are self-explanatory. In the Actions step, make sure to check append disclaimer text (…).
- In the ‘Edit rule description’ pane at the bottom click disclaimer text and provide the text.
- Complete the creation of the rule and click Finish.
Learn how to set up email signatures (including HTML content and users’ AD details) on Exchange 2010
Considerations and formatting
Signatures vs disclaimers: Setting priority
If you are using transport rules to add signatures to emails, keep in mind that disclaimers are typically added underneath signatures. You can make sure that this is the case by assigning higher priority (don’t forget that in Exchange the lower the priority value the higher the actual priority) to rules that add signatures and lower priority to disclaimer rules.
Can you prepend a disclaimer?
Sure. In Exchange 2010 and 2007 you do it by slightly modifying step 3 of my instructions above. Right next to the disclaimer text link you should see that the word ‘append’ is also linked. When you click it a dialog box appears that allows you to choose prepend as the action performed by the rule.
In Exchange 2016 and 2013 you activate this option by clicking More options… (see step 3). Next, go back to the *Do the following… dropdown, expand it and next to Apply a disclaimer to the message… you will see the prepend a disclaimer option.
Do disclaimers need formatting?
Your disclaimers should at the very least correspond with the formatting of your company’s email signatures. Typically they are written in a smaller font, sometimes even a lighter color.
In Exchange 2016, 2013 and 2010 font formatting is provided using HTML tags in the specify disclaimer text box. In Exchange 2007 font, size and color formatting is set individually in the ‘Edit rule description’ pane.
Legal requirements and enforceability
A while ago I wrote an article on various laws around world (mainly Europe and North America) mandating or related to disclaimers in electronic mail. You can read it here.