What Makes an Email Address?

Some customers say it’s a student’s name. Some say it’s the student number. Others go for a combination of name, year of birth, and how many pets they have. Almost every customer asks the same question when planning their Live@edu deployment – how should I format student’s email addresses?

The truth here is that there’s no set way that you have to format the email addresses – the bit before the domain can be whatever you want it to be. That said, there are several ‘best practice’ considerations:


You’ve just set up Live@edu as your new email system – so now you want students to actually use the service, right? A memorable, simple and personally identifiable address helps with this – a student will be much more likely to want to give out their student email address (and indeed remember their logon ID) if it’s an address they feel proud of. Combinations of joe.blogs or j.bloggs suffixed with the year of enrolment or another such number to ensure every address is unique often works well here.

Aliases & SMTP Addresses

Outlook Live allows you to set email aliases and more than one SMTP address. If you want to have something more formal as the Windows Live ID that students log in with, then this is a very good option. You can set every single user’s LiveID to be the same as their unique student number, but then specify a joe.bloggs style alias, and make that the primary SMTP address so that a student still has their ‘friendly’ email address while you get to maintain a uniquely identifiable Login / Live ID.

Single Sign-On

Using Single Sign-On does eliminate the worry around a login – given as students would automatically be logged into their Outlook Live / Live@edu account automatically when they log into your portal or such like. Beware of addresses here – will a student be expecting their email address to be the same as their network login? If it is – is it a friendly enough address?


There really is no right or wrong way to go with email address format. I see a lot of customers choosing the alias & SMTP address option – and it seems to work well for both students and IT teams. Whatever the choice, it’s very hard to change your mind after you’ve deployed a lot of users – so it’s well worth building the email address format decision into your Live@edu planning process!

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