2.11.9 User Guide

Retired Documentation

You are using the documentation for version 2.11.9. Go here for the latest version or check here for your available upgrades to the latest version.

Tell-A-Friend Form


The purpose of this tag is to display a form used to share an entry with someone by sending them an email about it. To show your tell-a-friend form use this tag pair:

{exp:email:tell_a_friend} {/exp:email:tell_a_friend}

The tell-a-friend form is created similar to a standard web form, only you don’t specify the opening and closing form tags; ExpressionEngine takes care of those for you.

There are numerous variations possible for this feature (using parameters and variables described below). Here’s an example showing how a tell-a-friend form might be created:

{exp:email:tell_a_friend charset="utf-8" allow_html='no'}
                <label for="from">Your Email: </label><br />
                <input type="text" id="from" name="from" size="40" maxlength="35" value="{member_email}" />
                <label for="name">Your Name: </label><br />
                <input type="text" id="name" name="name" size="40" maxlength="35" value="{member_name}" />
                <label for="to">To: </label><br />
                <input type="text" id="to" name="to" size="40" maxlength="35" />
                <label for="subject">Subject: </label><br />
                <input type="text" id="subject" name="subject" size="40" value="Entry by: {author}" />
                <label for="message">Message: </label><br />
                <textarea id="message" name="message" readonly="readonly" rows="18" cols="40">
                <input name="submit" type='submit' value='Submit Form' />


Make sure to use the correct template_group and template so the permalink that is sent in the tell-a-friend email is correct

Linking to the Tell-a-Friend page

In order to use the Tell-a-Friend feature, you will need to link to it. First, create a Template and place the Tell-a-Friend form in this Template.

You will then need to add a link to your new Tell-a-Friend Template from within your channel entries. In your channel tag {exp:channel:entries} you can point to it using the permalink variable:

<a href="{permalink='channel/friend'}">Tell-a-Friend</a>

In the above example, the Template “friend” contains the Tell-a-Friend form.



allow_html="yes" allow_html="<p>,<a>" allow_html="no"

The channel entry variables (see Channel Variables below) are formatted according to the formatting specified when the entry was submitted, so there is a possibility of HTML being output. This parameter allows you the choice of whether to keep the HTML in the form fields, allow only certain HTML tags (by specifying the tags as a comma-separated list), or allow no HTML to remain. If HTML is left in, then the email will be automatically sent as an HTML email.



This allows you to set the character set of the email being sent. Use this if your form’s template is using a character set other than iso-8859-1.



You may specify hidden recipients for the form. This is who will receive the submitted information. You may specify more than one recipient by separating the email addresses with commas:



In the situation where recipients are specified with this parameter and the regular “To:” field is also filled out, the recipients specified with this parameter will be mailed using BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) so that the “To:” recipient does not see those “hidden” email recipients.



After the form is submitted, the user will be shown a page stating that the submission was successful. With this parameter, you can determine how long ExpressionEngine displays that page. The value for this parameter is set in the number of seconds. For instance, if you want the message displayed for six seconds, you would use


You may also set ExpressionEngine to not redirect the user after they reach the message page. In that case, the user would simply remain on the message page. To do this, set the value to none:




By default the email address sending the email will be put in the From header for the email. If this parameter is set to “yes”, then that email address will be put into the Reply-To field and the site’s webmaster email will be put in the From header. This is necessary at times because certain email servers will not send an email with an address not from its domain, so ExpressionEngine will use the site’s webmaster email address to get past this restriction while still allowing any replies to go to the sender of the email.



This parameter lets the admin specify to where the user is directed after the form is submitted. Upon submission, the user is presented with a standard “thank you” message and a link. The return parameter lets the location, as well as the text, for the link be specified. If this parameter is not specified, then the link will point to the page they were on prior to arriving at the email form and the text for the link will be the Site Name.

The return URL and link text can be specified by separating the two pieces of information with the pipe character. If you are only specifying the second piece (the link text) then you must preceed it by the pipe character. For example, these would all be legitimate examples of the parameter:

return="|Home Page"
return="|Return to the Entry"



The channel status you would like entries restricted to. This is useful if you will be displaying entries with a status other than “open”. You can choose multiple statuses using a pipe:


Or exclude statuses using “not”

status="not submitted|processing|closed"



Specify from which channel you would like to allow Tell-a-Friend emails to be sent. This parameter is useful if you have multiple entries with the same URL Title in different channels. Unless you restrict this EE tag to a particular channel then you might get Tell-a-Friend forms for all entries matching the URL Title.



With this parameter, you can specify the css class you want the form to have, enabling fine-grained styling of the form.



With this parameter, you can specify the css id you want the form to have. The default value is ‘tellafriend_form’

Channel Parameters

While some of the Channel Entries Tag Parameters are also available to the Tell-a-Friend form, most of them will not be beneficial to use in that context. One exception that can be valuable is show_future_entries=, which would let you use the Tell-a-Friend form with entries dated in the future.




If a user is logged in, then it will display their email address as recorded in their member profile.



If a user is logged in, then it will display their screen name as recorded in their member profile.

Channel Variables

{title}     {permalink}     {author}     {body}     et cetera...

Many of the Channel Entries Tag Variables are available for the tell-a-friend form. Notable exceptions are all category related variables and custom member fields.


To ease the usability of this form with multiple channels, which will possibly contain different channel fields, all Channel Variables that are unfulfillable will be removed from the form.

For example, if you have a channel with the fields “summary” and “body”, and then another channel with the fields “ingredients” and “directions”, you will be able to put the following in the “message” textarea: {summary} {body} {ingredients} {directions}. If an entry linking to the tell-a-friend form is from channel one, then the first two fields will be filled and the second two will be ignored. If an entry from channel 2 is linking to the tell-a-friend form, then the first two will be ignored and the second two will be filled out.

Form Fields


<input type="text" name="captcha" value="" maxlength="20" />

The CAPTCHA input for the form. It is usually used with a conditional so that it is only displayed if necessary:

{if captcha}
        <p>Please enter the word you see in the image below:</p>
        <p>{captcha}<br /> <input type="text" name="captcha" value="" maxlength="20" /></p>

The setting to disable or enable CAPTCHA for the tell-a-friend form can be found in the Email Configuration preferences.


<input type="text" name="from" size="40" />

Email address of person who is sending the email.


If you leave this field open to user input, be aware that it is a potential for abuse by spammers, who could use your form pretending to be someone they are not (i.e. keying in If the user is allowed to modify both this and the message field, you have essentially created a phishing form ripe for abuse.


<textarea name="message" rows="10" cols="40"></textarea>

Main message of the email. If you do not wish to have the tell-a-friend message modified then we suggest using a hidden form field or setting the textarea as read only (ex: <textarea readonly=”readonly”></textarea>). You must include this form field, even if it is just a hidden field.


If you leave this field open to user input, be aware that it is a potential for abuse by spammers, who could use your form for email advertising. If the user is allowed to modify both this and the from field, you have essentially created a phishing form ripe for abuse.


<input type="text" name="name" size="40" />

Name of person who is sending the email.


<textarea name="required" rows="5" cols="40" readonly="readonly"></textarea>

Field allows you to have required information that is included at top of each email message. Useful for support emails where the information can be read only or hidden.


<input type="text" name="subject" size="40" />

Subject of the email that is being sent. You must include this form field, even if it is just a hidden field.


<input type="text" name="to" size="40" />

Email address where the email is being sent. Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma. You must include this form field, even if it is just a hidden field. This data may also be specified with the recipients= parameter of the tag.