LISTSERV Barebones Guide for List Owners

LISTSERV Commands Must Be Sent in Plain Text

If you are managing a LISTSERV mailing list using email commands, they must be sent in plain text.  In Outlook, open a new message, select the “Format Text” tab in the ribbon, then select the “Plain Text” option in the “Format” box.  In Clemson Gmail, click on the “Compose” message button, then in the lower left corner of the new message, click on the “A” next to the “Send” button.  Then click on the “Tx” button to switch to plain text.

LISTSERV Commands Should Not Be Used for Two Types of University Lists

LISTSERV add and delete commands should not be used on class lists.  Class lists are updated daily, so anyone removed manually from the list will be re-added the next day.

University lists that are system maintained and based on information in student or employee databases cannot be updated via LISTSERV commands.  These are lists such as “all faculty in dept 9999” or “all students in major code 9999”.  There are two reasons for this.  First, just like the class lists, these lists are updated every day, and anyone added or removed from the list using email commands will be removed or re-added.  The second reason is that these lists run on a SYMPA listserver, not on a LISTSERV listserver.  Send email to if you need changes to these lists.

Basic Commands

When performing a LISTSERV command, it should be emailed to The command should be in the body of the message, not the subject.   The message must use plain text.  Anything in the body of the message is perceived as a command, so any extraneous information (such as a signature) can be removed from the message. You can send multiple commands on seperate lines. When you send a command to the list server, it will ask for confirmation for each command. To confirm the command, simply click on the link in the return message from the listserver. If the list server receives no reply, it will not complete the command. If the command is not confirmed within 48 hours, it will be cancelled.


The ADD command allows the owner of the list to add new members. Both the email address and the full name of the person to add are required. If the name is unknown, replace it with an asterisk instead. The format of the command is:

ADD listname email full_name

So, for example:

ADD CU-L John Doe

Changing Owners

To make someone an owner of the list, contact the Postmaster by sending an email to  Include the name of the list and the email addresses of the owners to be added and/or deleted.


The DEL command (short for DELETE) allows the owner of the list to drop members. Like the Add command, the Delete command does not affect the class roll, only the members of the mailing list. Unlike the ADD command, you do not need to include a name. The format of the command is:

DEL listname email

So, for example:



The QUIET command can be prepended to an ADD or DELETE command. A QUIET command does not send an email to the person being added or deleted. The format of the command is:

QUIET ADD listname email full_name


QUIET DEL listname email

So, for example:





The REVIEW command returns all members of the mailing list. The format of the of the command is:

REVIEW listname

So, for example: