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UK Government Slack Usage Guide

UK Government Slack usage guide

Slack is a messaging tool for teams. This is a quick guide to help new users get the most out of Slack.

Remember that under the Freedom of Information Act any recorded information, including digital communication, can be requested by a member of the public.

Set up your profile

Your profile helps other users around government know who you are, and helps them find you easily if they're looking for you.

  • set your username to your full name, then an underscore and your department. For example alex_black_hmrc
  • use a recognisable profile photo
  • fill in 'What I do' with your role and organisation
  • you don't need to fill in phone number or Skype


Slack is split into different channels, each discussing a different topic. These are listed on the left hand side, and by default you'll be in two channels: announcements and chat.

Announcements is the only channel that is not optional - it allows anyone in government to make an important announcement to everyone on Slack. An example might be new job adverts, or a newly launched service.

Chat on the other hand is for any government-related chat, and you can leave this channel if you like (you can rejoin at any time).

To leave a channel, click the cog icon at the top of the screen and select the "leave" menu item.

To join a new channel, click 'CHANNELS' on the left.

Anything you post to the channel can be seen by everyone else there. If people join in the future, they'll be able to see it too (however there's a limit to how far you can go back and see posts in a channel).


You can add formatting to your messages using Markdown, for example this will be *bold*. See the full Slack Markdown guide here.

Getting people's attention

You can refer to a specific person by using @ then start to type their name. Slack will give you an autocomplete list of people to choose from. When you post the message, they will receive a notification.

For example:

@andi_west_dvla that design looks great - is it ready to go into research?

For important messages for everyone in a channel, you can use @here or @channel. @here is normally prefered - it will send notifications only to people currently online in the channel.

For example:

@here the data analysis show and tell is starting in 5 minutes

@channel sends notifications to everyone - if they are not online they will get an email notification.

For example:

@channel we've passed our beta assessment! Celebratory cake tomorrow

Direct messaging

For private conversations you can use direct messaging - start by clicking 'DIRECT MESSAGES' on the left, or the '+' symbol next to it. You can then select all the people you'd like to have a private conversation with.

You can add people to the group later, but because direct messages are private this will start a new conversation without the previous message history.

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