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Student Email Etiquette: Home

Email Etiquette

When you need to contact your instructor by email, you need to do so in an academically professional manner.  We've included some guidelines here for you to consider should you need to reach out to them.  The ability to compose a professional email is a critical business and occupational skill.  They are meant to be clear, concise, and to the point, not a lengthy discussion more suitable for face-to-face meetings. Many employers dislike having to explain proper email etiquette to recently hired employees.  Recent news articles have even detailed employees being terminated from their jobs for sending inappropriate, insensitive, and joking emails.


  • You should ALWAYS use your email address to contact anyone in the academic community for any reason.  Because of "phishing" attacks via email, professors will likely delete immediately (without opening) any email from a sender they do not recognize (SuzieQ123@gmail, Jondawg1999@hotmail, etc.), especially if the email contains links or attachments.
  • Make the subject line of your email clear, direct, and to the point: 
    • Example: ENGL 1100 assignment, Question about assignment, Next week's class, etc. 
    • Don't use vague expressions like these:  Help!, A minute of your time?, Assignment, I'm having trouble, etc.
  • Make sure to use an appropriate, professional tone in your email.
  • Always re-read your email to check for misspelled words, to correct grammar and punctuation errors, and other common mistakes before you send it.

Forms of Address

When addressing an email to your instructor, you should always use their preferred title.  Also, you will want to consider an appropriate type of salutation to use.  For example, "Good morning/afternoon/ evening, Dr. Johnson," or "Hello Professor Smith," or, simply, "Dr. Thomas."  If you are unsure how your instructor would prefer to be addressed, most will let you know during the first day of class.  If not, check your syllabus!

Likewise, you need to be mindful of how you conclude your email.  Use something professional like, "Thank you for your time/consideration in this matter," or "Sincerely yours," or "Best," and then use your full name to avoid possible confusion with other students the instructor may have with an identical first name.

What NOT to Include

Many instructors find it rather disrespectful to open an email which begins like this:  Hey!, or Hi Doc!, or no salutation at all.  Your relationship with your instructor should be a professional one, and your correspondence and interactions with them should reflect that level of professionalism.

Things to avoid using in email:

  • Any texting abbreviations (LOL, TTYL, TYVM, EV1, ASAP, etc.)
  • Emoji, emoticons, or other "cute" graphics -  (hearts), 🤦 (facepalm), ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (shruggie), etc.
  • Spelling variants (Can u help?, Can ya help me out?, instead of using you)
  • Word/symbol substitutions (question = ???, money = $$$)
  • Internet slang or slang terminology (humor, sarcasm, jokes or witty turns of phrase--these don't translate well without sound, visuals, or context--and can be easily misunderstood or misinterpreted by the email recipient)
  • Repetitive phrasing or long, rambling stories, explanations, or excuses
  • Clichés and other overused phrases
  • Non-traditional fonts or font sizes


Below you will find examples of good and bad professional emails.