There are normally three circulars sent out before an EGAS Meeting. 1 and 2 are sent to the entire EGAS mailing lists (containing over 500 names), which is maintained and updated by the secretary. The third circular is sent only to those who expressed a definite intention to attend. Note that for 1 and 2 it is possible to save postage by sending a package of named circulars to laboratories where there are several people to be reached, although most organisers have not considered this worth the effort.

It is normal for circulars 1 and 2 to be sent also by electronic mail to all members recorded on the EGAS server. Details of the conference and copies of the circulars should also be placed on World Wide Web pages.

Notes on the circulars follow; however, it is a good idea to look through those sent out for previous EGAS Meetings (the Secretary has copies).

CIRCULAR No. 1, sent about 8 or 9 months before the Conference, gives whatever details are available at the time, including when the later circulars can be expected and if possible approximate deadlines for the booking of accommodation and submission of abstracts. It asks for the return of a "tear-off" slip of paper to indicate interest. It might appear that the circular is of little use to anyone, and the tear-off slip even less so as everyone knows he will get the second circular whether he replies or not. However, the first circular does bring the name and address of the organiser to everyone's attention, and removes any doubts about the Conference date. There is also some psychological value in reminding people to put the Conference date in their diaries and start thinking about how to coordinate it with their family holidays.

CIRCULAR No. 2 asks for a definite commitment to attend; it is sent out around 4 months before the Conference. It gives specific information concerning food and accommodation - alternatives, their cost, and any other relevant factors - and sets a firm deadline for booking (generally by means of a tear- off slip). The Conference fee and the cost and nature of any other activities are stated. Instructions for the preparation of abstracts are given (note that it is particularly important that the presenter of each contribution should be underlined in the list of authors), and a deadline is set for their receipt. (The type of presentation required may also need to be asked - see under "Poster Sessions"). Organisers will need to set deadlines according to their local circumstances, but they should note that the General Assembly has always been in favour of as late a date as possible for submission of abstracts. The proposed deadline should be discussed with the EGAS Board well in advance of the Conference to avoid any possible misunderstanding. However, in setting deadlines it should be remembered that:-

i.- on the whole, a deadline is the time when people start to do something rather than finish

ii.- people vary considerably in what they mean by "firm booking" and "definite commitment". Some flexibility at the last minute will be found essential.

In summary, the second circular must be designed so that the organisers can find out from the tear-off slips and abstracts, which are returned to them, all that they need to know to put together the scientific programme and to make arrangements to lodge and feed the participants.

CIRCULAR No. 3, sent within a few weeks of the Meeting, gives whatever final information may be needed. Maps, how to find the Conference Office, lecture theatres, halls of residence, restaurant; hours of opening of Conference Office and restaurant; method of booking in, scientific programme, details of other activities, and so on. With the third circular one can also invite chosen people to be session chairmen, and so on. It is also possible to include a passage prepared by the EGAS Secretary relating the business of the General Assembly.

In this circular it is particularly important to give clear instructions for travelling to the conference venue. Arriving in a strange city can be stressful! Please remember that a public transport system that is perfectly clear to local people may be completely obscure to a stranger with little knowledge of the local language and customs.