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Email Etiquette for Communication

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  1. Use your college or university e-mail account. This will hopefully ensure that your professor will receive your e-mail, and that your message will not go into a spam folder. Also, through your email, your professor will be able to know immediately who you are, instead of having to guess the identity of qtpie2@unknown.com.
  2. Start with a new message. Avoid replying to an old message from your instructor, especially if you are address a new issue in your message.
  3. In the Subject Line include the course number in order to expedite a response. Also, include in a few words the reason for your message. Example: AC 231 - Ch 3 Homework Question, RE 443 - Assignment, ED 302 - Field Experience.
  4. Address your instructors appropriately. Professor Smith and Dr. Smith are appropriate ways to address your instructors. NEVER use "Hey" or call your professor by their first name (unless given permission to do so by the professor).
  5. Write a clear and concise message. Avoid wordiness and use the format below:
    • State your problem by being specific and detailed (I will not be in class on Monday or I would like to schedule an appointment to meet with you to discuss...)
    • Include the question relevant to your problem.
    • Just why you need an answer.
    • If you need a response, politely ask for one.
  6. Sign with your full name. After Regards, Sincerely or Best regards, sign your full name.
  7. Proof-read your message. Never click on "send" before proofreading your message. Make sure you have complete sentences and that you use punctuation correctly. Check for spelling mistakes: ensure you are not misspelling the instructor's name. Pay attention to mechanics (proper capitalization) and grammar mistakes. Do not use texting abbreviations. Whenever possible use paragraph breaks to organize your message.
  8. Emailing your professor is not the same as posting to your Facebook page or sending a text. Please keep an appropriate level of grammatical correctness, dignity, and professionalism when corresponding vie email.
  9. Allow adequate time for a reply. Your 2:00 am question may need to wait several hours for an answer. If your assignment is due at 8:00 am and  you have a question pertaining to the assignment, please do not expect a prompt reply from the 2:00 am email. Furthermore, please do not expect a reply by 8:00 am. Be reasonable in your expectations of email responses. Do not assume that instructors check their emails several time a day or that student-emails are automatically sent to professor 'smart phones' for instantaneous responses. Also, not all messages from students require answers. If you need an answer, make sure to kindly ask for one, always allowing adequate time for a proper reply.
  10. Always express your gratitude. When your professor replies to your message, make sure to thank him/her. This is not only polite, but it also serves as confirmation that you have received his or her reply.

ADDITIONAL TIPS

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  • Do not use your email message to rant or to whine. If you have a concern or a complaint, make sure to word it correctly, and be concise. Then, make an appointment to follow up.
  • When inquiring about the reasons for a grade on a specific assignment, consider making an appointment to meet in person with your instructor. Inform your instructor about the reason for your appointment: "Re: schedule an appointment to discuss my mid-term grade," this will give your instructor time to prepare for the meeting as in gathering materials necessary to explain your grade. Do not expect this kid of question to be answered via email.
  • When you realize that you have a conflict which the date of your assignments, mid-term or final exams, email your instructor immediately, and ask for an appointment to discuss alternatives. Again, do not expect to address this concern by email only.
  • Do not write in CAPITALS. When you write your message in CAPITAL LETTERS, you come across as If YOU ARE SHOUTING. There is a distinct difference between using capital letters for emphasis versus shouting. Please recognize the difference and write accordingly.
  • Instructors, employers and others form opinions and impressions of you sometimes based on the quality of the email messages you send. Be sure you are communicating properly and sending a good impression!
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