New year, new tips: Email etiquette

Hey. How’s it going? Are you busy? Are you so busy you want to email your professor asking them to send you today’s assignment you seem to have misplaced? Well, before you press ‘send,’ maybe you should rewrite that email.

Here are some tips to writing emails to your professors (and to your colleagues).

  • Always check Inquire to make sure your course materials are not published before you email your professor, asking for course materials. Chances are those articles and assignments are already there- you’re just not looking hard enough for them.
  • Use a meaningful and short subject line. If the email is about a class, mention that specific course number and time it takes place.
  • Be concise and to the point.
  • Use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation. Remember- this email is meant to convey a message, so be sure it does so properly. Also, sarcasm is hard to read in an email, so it’s best if you don’t attempt it.
  • Don’t make it personal, especially overly personal. Maintain a professional attitude when writing your professors; always use your professors’ proper title: Dr. or Prof. and unless invited do not use their first name. They are not your Facebook friends. Think of them as your potential employer and show them the respect they deserve.
  • Again, be respectful and say things like ‘thank you,’ ‘please,’ and ‘you’re the best professor I’ve ever had.’
  • How many question marks is too many??? More than one. If you ask a question, end it with one question mark, even if you are meaning to imply your frustration. Same can be said of exclamation marks.
  • Be careful with emoticons and abbreviations. Your professor may not know what BOCTAAE means, so “when in doubt, spell it out”.
  • Use a professional font (Times New Roman) in black ink. Teal Curlz font does not convey professionalism.
  • Don’t expect an immediate response to your email. Your professors are very busy, and some of them may not check their email every minute of every day.
  • Use proper structure and layout. Use short paragraphs and blank lines between each paragraph.
  • Read the email before sending.
  • Read it again. And don’t forget to sign your full name.

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