UCD Email Etiquette

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A little email etiquette goes a long way. See also UCD Classroom Etiquette.

From (undergraduate) student to instructor:

From instructor to student:

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2008-10-20 23:58:20   Learning how to write meaningful subject headings can also make life a lot easier for both the sender and the recipient (not just instructors, but also counselors, academic advisers or peer advisers). When you consider that the "Instructor:Student" ratio is at least 1:100 (imagine teaching 3x sections of 30 students each), a subject heading of "Help - Midterm?!" isn't very conducive to you receiving any helpful responses, other than, "Who are you and what do you mean?"

Instead, try something involving your name, your class section, and the actual subject of discussion, as in the following examples:

"[BioSci 101A, Lecture Section 2] Kacey Lander — Question about Section 5 on the practice midterm: format to use for essay questions?"
"[JPN01, 8:00 AM session] Chapter 5 Conversation — do we need to translate all 10 pages?"
"[LIT105, Afternoon Language Lab Session] Cancelled or moved to another room? T.A. did not specify."

This practice is especially useful if you are a student employee who has to communicate exclusively via email to other staff members in different departments. Speaking as a university staff employee, we receive an average of 50-75 emails a day. Because everyone's concern is urgent and time-sensitive, emails with nondescript subject headings (e.g., "Tomorrow", "Front Desk", "Sick", "Can I leave early?") easily get lost in the barrage of daily announcements, reminders and FYI notifications. If anything, being able to write distinct subject headings helps us track multiple discussions and demonstrates that you are capable of communicating effectively in writing — which is usually a plus in a professional environment.

And I agree that ending with polite salutations such as "Thank you", "Thank you for your time", "Sincerely", or other variations is always welcome because it shows that you respect the other person's time. —T.Zukumori


2009-01-02 22:59:06   oh man...I just like to start my messages out "Hey Teach-". That's not appropriate? —AmandaAbughosh


2009-03-05 20:41:48   Thanks for the tips! Reading this makes me wonder who you are! —renee415


2009-06-15 21:34:38   O my, this is a nice thing to refer people to. But also, let me add: if you don't come to class or come rarely, don't e-mail your professor, even with questions that might not have been covered in class. Why? Because you could have asked before or after class, or contacted a peer. Not attending and expecting your professor to deal with you via e-mail sends this message: I can't be bothered to give you any of my time during the hours we are supposed to interact, but I demand that you give me your time whenever I need it. Yuck. Obviously, if you have a disability or illness that makes class attendance difficult, and are all set up with the UCD resources for that, that's a different story. —BethFreeman


2010-08-01 14:40:03   As a student, it's very frustrating when you apply for an internship under a professor, and don't even receive a reply, even when following all of the above suggestions. Even a simple "Sorry, don't need an intern" or "Sorry, you're not what we're looking for" would suffice. I put in a lot of time into personalizing my resume and cover letter for each internship. Some acknowledgment is all I ask for. —TheShah


2010-09-09 10:15:30   How do you start an email to a lecturer who is not a professor and only has a master's? I once ran into this problem and ended up dropping the salutation all together. —JeffLee


2014-02-20 14:48:21   @Jeff Look at the syllabus and see what they call themselves. I usually play it up, and call them Dr. or Professor even if they aren't. It plays into their ego, like CovertProfessor implicitly said. —JimPage

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