Writing professional e-mails

Professional e-mails (those going to a professor or to a prospective employer) are different from personal e-mails or text messages in several ways.

  • Include a descriptive and detailed subject line for the e-mail. See the following examples:
    • Poor: I have a question
    • Better: ENG1101 Homework
    • Best: ENG1101 Homework due 9/6/2011, Problem 3.5
  • Address the person you are e-mailing (e.g., Hello Dr. Smith,).
  • Use full sentences.
  • Use capitals and punctuation.
  • Do not shorten words (i.e., use “you” instead of “u”).
  • Spell check the e-mail.
  • Sign the e-mail.
    • Thank you,
    • Your Name
    • Your Contact Information

Here are some tips for e-mailing questions to a professor or an academic advisor.

  1. Explain who you are and what you need help with. Include any important background information.
  2. List your questions in a numbered list rather than paragraph format. It is easy to lose questions in a paragraph.
  3. Sign your full name, course, day and time of course, or your full name and major.