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Automatically add email disclaimers in Office 365 using Transport Rules

Aug 6, 2013 by Emma Robinson

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Organisations in highly regulated industries often require all emails sent from the company to contain a specially crafted disclaimer.

It’s much easier for IT Administrators if these disclaimers are managed in a central location and are automatically applied to emails as they leave the organisation. Luckily this is easily done in Office 365 using Transport rules.

To configure create Disclaimers using Transport Rules, you need to open up the Exchange Admin Center.

Exchange Admin Center

Exchange Admin Center

If you are using a Small Business Office 365 subscription, you can access the Exchange Admin Center using this workaround.

Now navigate to the Mail Flow section to create your first rule.

Creating a Default Disclaimer that Applies to all Users

Most organisations have a single common disclaimer that gets applied to all emails sent be any staff member.

To create this default rule, click the Plus button to add a new Disclaimer as shown below.

Add Transport Rule

Add Transport Rule

Name the rule Default Disclaimer, select the [Apply to all messages] option from the Apply this rule if.. section and select the Append the disclaimer option from the Do the following drop down.

Create Default Disclaimer

Create Default Disclaimer

You can now click on the Enter Text… hyperlink on the right hand side to add the text that will be applied to each message. You can use HTML here to “pretty up” the disclaimer if required but be aware, you can only add a disclaimer of 4096 characters or less.

Once you’ve entered the disclaimer text you will need to decided what will happen if Exchange is unable to insert the disclaimer for any reason. Click the Select one.. hyperlink and choose one of the following options:

  • Wrap: The original message is enclosed, or “wrapped”, in a new message, and the disclaimer is inserted into the body of the new message. If the original message can’t be wrapped in a new message, the sender receives an NDR that explains why the message wasn’t delivered.
  • Ignore: The original message is delivered without the disclaimer.
  • Reject: The message isn’t delivered. The sender receives an NDR that explains why the message wasn’t delivered.

When you’re done, click Save and you will see the Disclaimer rule listed in your transport rules section.

Disclaimer Added

Disclaimer Added

Adding Different Disclaimers for Different Users

Some departments within your organisation may require specific disclaimers that differ from the default.

In Office 365 we can create multiple Disclaimer rules that apply to users that belong to a specific Distribution Group.

To achieve this, create a new disclaimer rule as explained above. However, instead of applying the rule to all outgoing messages, select the Sender is a member of.. option and choose the Distribution Group that contains the specific group of users that require this disclaimer.


Apply rule to members of Distribution Group

Apply rule to members of Distribution Group


We now need click the More Options link and tick the Stop processing more rules option as shown below.

Read more Optimizing PowerShell for large Office 365 tenants

Important: If you do not tick this box, your users will end up with both the special disclaimer AND the default disclaimer.


Transport Rule More Options

Transport Rule More Options


Once you’ve saved the disclaimer, use the Up and Down arrows above the Transport Rules box to move the new disclaimer above the Default Disclaimer. This will ensure that your Sales users get the correct disclaimer, as they are applied in order from top to bottom.


Ordering the rules

Ordering the rules

You can of course create many rules for many different departments.

If a user is a member of two conflicting distribution groups that each have custom disclaimers, only the highest ordered disclaimer will apply.

Customizing Disclaimers based on Active Directory Attributes

One cool feature of Office 365 disclaimers is the ability to add variables into the Disclaimer text that will be replaced by a users Active Directory attributes.

For example, you could include the persons Phone Number into the disclaimer. To do this, write the variable %%PhoneNumber%% where you want the phone number to appear and this will be automatically replaced by the Phone Number listed in the users Active Directory account when the email is sent.

For a full list of the variables that can be used please see this Microsoft Office 365 help article.

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