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The Nuts and Bolts of Email Etiquette: Tips for Students


email etiquetteWe know it’s only the beginning of the academic year for most of your high school seniors, but we want to help you help them prepare for the next step by offering a few tips that we only wish we would’ve had when we began our college career. To start, we’d like to talk about email etiquette.

No doubt, your students have sent countless emails in their day, but many of them make careless blunders that are super easy to avoid. Here are a few things they should consider before hitting the send button.

The Nuts and Bolts of Email Etiquette: Tips for Students

The student’s email address itself
Having an email address like, say, SxiGurl01@yahoo.com or BadBuoy58@gmail.com is probably—probably—OK when you are in high school, but we would advise students to reevaluate the integrity of the addresses they’re emailing professors from. Besides the tackiness of the above examples, neither give the professor any idea as to who the email is from. They may end up being deleted because they look like spam.

Subject line
Your professor teaches at least three or four classes each semester—maybe more—and receives dozens of emails every week. Make it easy on your professor by listing the name of the course and section number in the subject line of the email. Also, provide one or two words to give him or her a general sense of what the email is about. Say you have a question about the final research project in your Humanities 101 course (you are enrolled in section 02 of the course). Your subject line should look something like this:

Hum. 101-02: Question about final research project

Some professors prefer to be called by their first names, others—if their credentials call for it—accept nothing less than Dr. So and so. Regardless of how they wish to be addressed, always begin your emails with a proper salutation. One of the following will work just fine:

Dr. Smith:

Dear Dr. Smith:

Hello, Dr. Smith: 

You’ll notice that we placed a colon after the professor’s last name instead of a comma.   

Body of the email
Before you jump into your question, be sure to identify yourself.

Hi, Dr. Smith:

My name is Ben Bernanke; I am in your Humanities 101 course on Tuesday and Thursdays (1:00-2:30).

The nature of the email itself
Chances are that your professor receives as many as 20 to 30 emails a day—probably more. Keeping that in mind, try to articulate your questions as succinctly as possible. If you have several questions, add bullet points or number them so that they are easy to spot. If your question is a complicated one, it may be best to schedule an office meeting.

Closing Statement
Always sign off with a closing statement. Keep it simple.

Thank you for your help.


Ben Bernanke

A few more random pointers?

  • Use spell check
  • Do not use text-speak
  • Do not write in all uppercase letters
  • Remember that emails are permanent documents and consider: Is what you are about to send appropriate? Disputing a grade, venting, or proclaiming how lost you are probably isn’t best suited for an email
  • Do not copy and paste your entire paper into the body of an email. Always send papers as an attachment



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