Email Etiquette Reminder

Every semester I review email etiquette with my freshmen. Then I require an assignment that has them send me an email and I grade both the assignment and their email etiquette. Throughout the semester I pick at least two other emails to assign grades to regarding email etiquette. (I do more if the students are not doing well with the email etiquette–and I let them know I am going to.)

Here is a review I sent for a student who was not in class for the email etiquette:

1. Pick a good subject title. (Don’t just respond to an email I wrote, usually. When you are asking a question about something specific I wrote in an email, you can respond to that email. Otherwise start a new email.) Something like “topic for 106” or “question on 106 homework” will let me know how important it is to read the email as soon as I see it.

2. Address the email with a salutation. For school, that would mean “Dear Dr. Davis” or “Dear Dr. Lynn.” If you don’t know if a professor has a doctorate, assume they do. No one is insulted by being presumed to have more education than they do.

3. Make sure all the information needed is in your email and write in the best English you can. Don’t use things like u for you or b4 for before.

4. Sign your email with the name you use in class, both your called name and your family/last name.

5. Somewhere make sure you indicate the class you are in (and the time if the professor might have more than one class of that kind). For 106 this semester I only have one class. As long as 106 is in your email, after your name or in the subject line, then you are good. However, last semester I had two 106 classes, so those students had to write either the section number or the time that the class met as well as 106.

These are good tips for writing emails to professors in any department. Using them shows respect for the instructor and the course, which enhances your credibility and lets your discussion with your professor start off well.

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