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Transcript of Email Etiquette
Tips for E-mailing Your Professor
Did you get my email?
Once you send it off, you can't get it back.
Once your professor has it, he or she owns it and can save it, or in the worst case, forward it to colleagues for a good laugh - at your expense.
2. Email goes where it's told.
Check—and double check—to see that the right address appears in the "To" line.
Just because your mom and your professor are both named "Lynn" is no reason to send all your love to Professor Lynn.
1. Email is forever.
3. Use a professional email.
Professors might not open mail sent from firstname.lastname@example.org.
They prefer to open mail from from more reputable addresses, like the university email system.
4. Subject lines are for subjects.
Put a brief explanation of the nature of the e-mail (like "question about paper") in the subject line.
Never include demands such as "urgent request—immediate response needed." That's the surest way to get your request trashed.
5. Salutations matter.
The safest way to start is with "Dear Professor So and So" (using their last name). That way you won't be getting into the issue of whether the prof has a Ph.D. or not, and you won't seem sexist when you address your female-professor as "Ms." or, worse yet, "Mrs. This and That."
6. Clear and concise is best.
Your prof might get 25 or 30 E-mails a day, so, it's best if you ask your questions in as focused and succinct a way as possible.
(Hint: it's often good to number your questions).
And, if your question is very elaborate or multifaceted, it's best to go to an in-person office hour. You'll get better service that way.
THIS IS NOT A SHOUTING MATCH. Don't write in all uppercase letters, which is an E-mail convention for anger or other strong emotions. No one likes yelling.
No one really likes emoticons and smileys. Trust us on this one. :)
This is not Facebook. Don't write the professor in the way you'd write on your friend's wall.
This is not IM-ing. So pls dun wrte yor profeSR lIk ur txtN. uz abbrz @ yor own rsk. coRec me f Im wrng.
Spelling mistakes make you look like a doofus. So always use the spel check, and proofread yyour e-mail, two.
8. Sign offs and signatures count.
Always end by thanking the professor for his or her time, and closing with "Best wishes" or "Regards" (or some other relatively formal, but friendly, closing).
Always sign with your (entire) real name, not some wacky nickname like Ry-Ry or Biff.
9. Don't lay it on too thick.
It's one thing to be polite and friendly in your e-mail; it's another thing to wind up as the teacher's pet or with a brown nose.
Tips Adapted from 18 Etiquette Tips for E-mailing Your Professor, Jeremy S. Hyman and Lynn F. Jacobs, US News (Setpember, 30 2010)