Best Practices - Tips and Recommendations for Creating Lists in Office 365

Office 365 offers a variety of UI Directory and Distribution Lists options. Some of these directory and lists can be automatically generated from institutional data. The options are described below. A Best Practices FAQ follows the descriptions.

Organization Views

Office 365 uses "Organization Views" or "Org Views." One can browse these views via the Address Book and send to the individuals or groups.

  • ITS will automatically create an Org view for each Organization.
  • Each member of the Org will be listed in that view.
  • The name will be the same as the Human Resources Name for that Organization.
  • All Office 365 users will be able to browse this Org view and send e-mail to each individual listed.
  • The Outlook user can set this Org view as their default Address Book.

Outlook -- Click Address Book icon.  Choose Tools | Options.  Select Start with Global Address List.   In the "When opening the address book, show this address list first" field, click the down arrow and select the list to open.  Click OK.


Organization Security Groups

Organizational Groups are like distribution lists or listserv lists.

  • ITS will automatically create an Organizational Group for each Organization.
  • The name will be the same as the Human Resources Name for that Organization.
  • This group will actually be a "superlist" of the departments within that Organization.
  • Each member of the Org will be able to send to the departments or the entire Organization, but not to any one individual in that Group.
  • Only members of that Organization will be able to send e-mail to that Organization Group.
  • Only members of that Organization will be able to send e-mail to the Departmental Subgroups.
  • Non-Office 365 users who send from their alias, if they are part of that same Org, can also send to these Groups or Subgroups.
  • These Group and Subgroups are security groups and therefore can be used to set access rights for resources and public folders.

Public Folders

Public folders can contain the organization or department lists. Examples would include a contact for each of the listservs that are maintained by an Organization or a list of external vendors.  These folders are maintained by the departmental owner.

Public Folders will be created at the request of the Organization. See "Request a Departmental Public Folder."  The Public Folder owner can set the security rights on that folder.

Note:   Outlook for Mac and OWA users will not be able to access Public Folders.


Listserv and Office 365 can compliment each other. Listserv, offers moderated lists; online, searchable archives; and user initiated subscribe and unsubscribes. If you need these options then we still recommend listserv.

Personal Distribution Lists

Personal Distribution lists are very useful because they are maintained by the user. Outlook, for both calendar and e-mail and OWA can access the same contacts folder and personal distribution lists.

Note: Personal Distribution lists can be nested -meaning a distribution list can contain other lists. Break large lists into several smaller lists and create a "superlist" that contains the "sublists."

Best Practices for lists in O365 FAQ....

Q. Why not just use Office 365 Groups and drop our listservs?

A. Listserv is preferable if you need any of the following:

A moderated list.
Allow users to self-subscribe or unsubscribe.
Have non-University of Iowa subscribers.
Want online archives.
Administer the list yourself.
Want to advertise your list publicly.

Article number: 
Last updated: 
April 10, 2017