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University of York Library
Library Subject Guides

Slack: a Practical Guide

10 tips

Help and advice for getting the most out of Slack.

This page is for anyone looking for guidance on using Slack more effectively and personalising it to suit your needs.

Select each headline below to reveal more information:

Slack channels


Use channels and threads

Channels can be created for teams, working groups, or projects, and can grow organically.

Joining channels

Team members can join and leave channels as needed — unlike lengthy email chains

Side conversations

Threads mean side conversations can continue with those who need to be involved

Channel management

Channels can be created and archived to suit short-term projects



Ask Slackbot!

Slackbot is your interactive help chat. Here are some ways you might use Slackbot:


To find answers to your questions about Slack

Add responses

To add customized automatic responses


To access personal reminders and tasks

Slack work


Make Slack work for you...

Like all tools finding and using features within Slack will help ensure Slack works for you. Things you might find useful:


Use stars and pins for organizing

Channels & threads

Use channels and threads (see the first tip, above)


Use the search feature to look for historical threads/topics/keywords within a channel


Use keyboard shortcuts to manage high volume 'Slacks'

  • If you press ‘Ctrl’ and ‘/’ on Windows (‘CMD’ and ‘/’ on Mac) then this should bring up a little visual display of commonly used shortcuts for you to incorporate into your workflow (a shortcut for shortcuts!)


For more help and advice, check out the #slack-talk channel

Slack talk


Remember to still talk to people!


Slack isn’t a replacement for talking to someone in person. Some conversations are better in person (especially if that other person is in the same office as you!).

Slack notifications


Manage your notifications to avoid being always-on

Within Slack you can change your settings to determine when you are contactable and when you’re not.


You can indicate your availability using your status eg. ‘At lunch’, ‘Sick’ or ‘Out of office’


You can manage your notifications to be alerted just to specific channels or if someone mentions your name


You can mute channels (if you only want to go into them at set times for instance). And you can set alerts.

If someone really needs you, they can force a notification through to you (only to be used in emergencies) but otherwise would be told that you’re not currently available.

Slack @


Notifying someone when they’re needed is easier than ever (don’t @ me!)

You can notify someone and ask them to join a conversation or channel by using the @ symbol followed by their username.

You can also use similar calls like @everyone or @channel which notifies everyone in that channel. Remember use with caution and only if everyone really needs to know what you’re saying.

Alternatively, you can use the @here shout to only notify members of the channel who are currently online.

Of course, if you really need to talk to someone consider ringing them or seeing them in person.

Slack use


Ask yourself if you really need to use Slack

Respect everyone’s time by keeping messages in channels relevant, purposeful, and concise.

Be mindful of sharing sensitive information, particularly in open channels. Posts can be edited by the sender if necessary. Please note posts cannot be deleted fully without admin authorisation. ‘Deleted’ posts will just appear as strikethrough text (example) unless a Slack admin has been contacted to delete the post.

Slack friends


Be friendly!

Be friendly and accept that mistakes happen e.g. spelling errors, accidental postings etc.

Slack communication


Consider your communication style

Try to use plain English and avoid over-abbreviation and technical jargon (depending on nature of the channel). Acronyms can be useful but remember what channel you’re in and consider whether everyone will be familiar with them.

Emojis can let you react quickly and simply, or soften the tone. But look at previous messages to get a sense of the communication style on each channel 😎.

Slack work


Remember you’re still at work

At work, among the ducks

Just because you’re using Slack, please remember you’re still at work and a certain level of professionalism is still expected. Everything you say is still attributable to you and your role.

General guidance


Clearly articulate why a channel has been set up to ensure people are there and present. Add this to the channel description.


Members (or owners of channels) need to decide how active all members of each channel need to be and the associated expectations of each channel, for example, IT Services expect Slack to be used as the primary method for monitoring and managing emergencies.


Decide as a team how you’re going to use it - what conversations will happen in Slack and where are other forms of communication are more appropriate e.g. if something needs to be recorded as a decision.


Chat works well for communications that need quick responses or input.


Remember everything you put into Slack is attributable back to you and your role at the University.


Chat can appear abrupt at times so bear this in mind and keep things friendly and respectful so everyone is encouraged to contribute.


Slack messages will be retained and accessible in Slack for a 13 month period. Important information that you may need to refer back to after 13 months, such as decisions, should be recorded elsewhere eg in an email or Google Document.


Slack conversations should not include personal data or special categories of personal data unless in support of the day to day business functions undertaken by the team or the individual. Conversations within Slack are auditable and will fall within scope for future Subject Access Requests (e.g. where a data subject requests to see their data or to have it amended or deleted).