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Email Etiquette: Some Handy Tips

We know what you’re thinking – you can write an email.

However, it seems like there is a bit of confusion about some of the formalities that should be used when emailing your lecturers. So, here’s some basic tips for creating that A+ email:

1. Start off on the right foot.

Hiya! Hey! S’up?! Yo!

Sounds natural when you’re meeting your mates outside the SU, right? However, it’s probably not the most appropriate greeting for your lecturer. Why not try a nice “Dear” or “Good morning/afternoon/evening” to get the ball rolling. After the initial email, see how they start their reply – if they say “Hi SU” (or whatever your name is), you’ll be okay to also use that at the beginning of any subsequent responses.

2. Wtf is this about??

Please, we’re begging you, use proper grammar. If you use any slang or acronyms, it’s highly likely that most of the people reading your email aren’t young enough to know what they all mean - including us! We’re not asking for the Queen’s English to be used but a little bit of sentence structure wouldn’t go amiss.

3. Make sure you know what you’re asking for

Staff are here to help, but they need a bit more guidance than “I don’t know what to do for my essay.” There are two things that you can do to make sure you get the answer you need:

  1. Use your subject line: sounds obvious, but if you include the module code or title and/or the title of the assignment, your lecturer will know that it’s an email that should be treated as a priority and will be able to know immediately what kind of query this is likely to be.

  2. Give as much detail as possible, concisely: tell your lecturer what you have already tried, what reference materials you have looked for, whether there are gaps in lecture slides available. If you can pinpoint where you are going wrong, you’ll get the help you need much faster.

4. Cut the emojis/gifs/pictures of dogs

We love a gif, but there’s a time and a place. Hitting us up on Twitter? Of course we want to see your gif game. Asking your professor for a meeting to talk about an upcoming essay? Probably not the best place to send a gif of someone hitting their head off a desk.

Ultimately, these tips come down to you appreciating that university is a professional organisation, so there is an expectation that this is reflected by yourselves also. Remember, if you feel like you need a bit more support with writing, CeDAS have workshops, lectures, drop-ins and one-to-one tutorials focused on academic writing and communication. Find out more info here.