Email Etiquette

Posted by in Writing

In college, communication with professors is vital. Most classes will either meet one, two, or three times a week, and besides these times there are limited opportunities to communicate with professors outside of class and office hours. So what is a good way to get in touch with professors? The answer may seem odd to a high schooler, but sending emails is often the preferred method to communicate with instructors. This also goes for advisors, bosses, or anyone else with whom you need to make contact. Before coming to college, I rarely sent emails.  However, I soon found out that not only did I need to familiarize myself with sending emails, but I also needed to learn the proper etiquette in writing them.

I have learned from my experiences that it’s a good idea to compose an email in a word document before putting it in the email message box. This does not automatically exempt you from grammar or spelling errors, but will definitely help reduce them. When professors see sloppiness in little things like emails, they do not develop a positive impression about the student. Also always use positive phrasing, ensuring that there is nothing the reader can misinterpret from the tone or word usage as rude or insensitive. You may be very frustrated and desperate to get what you need, but I promise the nicer you are, the more likely the professor is going to help.

Next, be professional. This is not your best friend or your mom you’re writing to, so don’t get slack with your lingo. Open with a simple “Hi, my name is (name) and I am in your (state the class, day of the week, time). This helps the professor know who you are and can put things in better context. Next give a polite “I hope this email finds you well” or “Hope you are having a nice week.” Again, this simple sentence shows politeness from the start and will help put you in good graces with your professor. Following this, express your question, concern, comment, or reason for needing to make contact. Be detailed in what you are trying to communicate to help the professor help you. A good way to lead into your question or concern is to say something along the lines of: “I was just wondering…,” “In yesterday’s lecture…,” or “I was confused about….” If you are emailing them to set up a time to meet, say something like: “I was hoping we could meet sometime soon to discuss….”

Some professors will give details on how to write emails in theis syllabus, many will not. This being said, a good structure to follow is—name, class and time, then your question. For example, your header could look like “John Smith, Biology 1050-001 MWF 9am.”

In concluding emails, end with a simple “Thank you again,” “Have a great day,” or “Look forward to hearing from you.” This again shows politeness and respect. Then don’t forget to sign off with your first and last name under the sincerity line. Over all, emails are a survival tool in college, as well as in the business world. So knowing the proper writing etiquette for it is incredibly important!