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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    SUBJECT: Email etiquette

    To: UA Students

    CC: UA Freshmen

    Dear UA students,

    Now that school is back in session, it’s time to start checking (and sending out) emails. Whether you have a question for your professor, need to schedule an appointment with your academic adviser or just want to form a study group with your peers, you should always compose your emails in a respectful and professional way. Follow these quick tips so that you don’t make a fool of yourself.

    General “no-duh” tips

    Never use exclamation points, excessive question marks, “chatspeak” or emoticons in your emails. This should go without saying, but unfortunately, it’s a widespread rookie mistake. No matter who you are (or how excited you are about what you’re talking about) you will sound like a dumb, annoying blonde when you say things like “Hi Dr. White! 🙂 How r u??”

    Always open and close your emails with appropriate salutations. You don’t need to say “Dear” or write each message like a friendly letter, but it’s important to begin by addressing the person you’re emailing. “Hello, Dr. White” or just “Dr. White—” is a polite way to start. And when you finish, be sure to thank the addressee for his or her time and use a pleasant closer like “best,” or “sincerely,” followed by your full name and email address.

    Tips for content

    Make sure you know exactly what you want and express that wish to the person that you’re emailing. Don’t beat around the bush. Instead of saying “I was wondering if maybe you ever let students petition you for honors credit in your classes,” be straightforward and specific. It’s much less confusing to say, “I was hoping to petition you for honors credit. Is that a possibility for your English 373A class?”

    Never, ever email your professors to ask them what you missed, or if “anything important” happened during a class you did not attend. Of course something important happened and your professor is not responsible for your missing it. So ask a classmate if you can borrow his notes to catch up. Only get the professor involved if you missed a quiz or due date.

    Tips for instructors and advisers

    When you address your instructor, make sure to do the research before writing out his or her name. Remember that not all professors have doctorates, so it isn’t safe to just call everybody “Dr.” People get annoyed if you do and they’re not. Different instructors prefer “Prof.” or “Mr.” or “Ms.” Don’t use the wrong one.

    If you’re talking to your teaching assistants or preceptors, don’t treat them differently just because they are master’s degree candidates or closer to your own age than your other teachers. TAs deserve your respect too and pull weight with the professor when it comes to your final grade.

    If you have a question for your academic adviser, be sure to provide all the necessary information that she will need in order to answer your question. In your query, include your full name, year, major and student ID number. It’ll save your adviser a lot of trouble.

    These tips might seem simple but are easy to forget. If you follow them, your professors are sure to appreciate it.


    Miranda Butler

    — Miranda Butler is the assistant arts editor for the Daily Wildcat. She can be reached at

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