Email Etiquette: Do's and Don'ts
Do use a professional email address.
You should always have an email address that conveys your name so that the recipient
knows exactly who is sending the email. Never use email addresses (perhaps remnants
of your grade-school days) that are not appropriate for professional use, such as
"babygirl@..." or beerlover@... This is applicable to all students and faculty alike.
Do have a clear subject line.
Most of us have to compete with hundreds of emails clogging our inbox every day, so
the clearer your subject line, the more likely your message will be read. Examples of a
good subject line includes “Appointment Request”, “Advising Question”, or “Course
Do use a professional salutation.
Using “Hey,” “Yo,” or “Hiya” isn’t professional, no matter how well you know the
recipient. Hey is a very informal salutation and generally it should not be used to
address your advisor, professor or anyone at the University. Use “Hi”, “Hello”, or even
Don’t forget your signature.
Every email should include a signature that tells the recipient who you are and how to
contact you. Set it up to automatically appear at the end of each email. Include all of
your contact details so the recipient doesn’t have to look up your email or phone
number. Use the same font, type size, and color as the rest of the email. Do Not
include your Student ID.
Don't use humor.
Humor does not translate well via email. Keeps tab on your tone, in general. What you
think is funny has a good chance of being misinterpreted by the other party without the
accompanying vocal tone and facial expressions. Also, something that you think is
funny might not be funny to someone else. When in doubt, leave humor out.
Do proofread your email.
Don't be surprised if you're judged by the way you compose an email. For example, if
your email is littered with misspelled words and grammatical errors, you may be
perceived as sloppy, careless, or even uneducated. An email is not a text message.
Check your spelling - use spellcheck but don’t rely on it. Read and re-read, preferably
aloud to check for grammar, before hitting send.
Don’t! overuse exclamation points.
Exclamation points and other indications of excitement such as emoticons,
abbreviations like LOL, and all CAPITALS do not translate well in educational and
professional communications. The result can appear too immature. Leave them off
unless you know the recipient extremely well. It’s also not professional to use a string
of exclamation points!!!!! It may take some practice to keep your emails professional
and to the point, but you will look more polished and organized in the long run.
Don’t assume the recipient knows what you’re talking about.
Create your message as a stand-alone note, even if it is in response to a chain of
emails. This means no “one-liners.” Include the subject and include any previous
emails or conversations. It can be frustrating and time consuming to look back at the
chain to brush up on the context. Your recipient may have hundreds of emails coming
in each day and likely won’t remember the chain of events leading up to your email.
Do understand that people who come from different cultures speak and write
Miscommunication can easily occur because of cultural differences, especially in
writing when we can’t see one another’s body language. Tailor your message to the
receiver’s cultural background and/or how well you know them.
Don’t use a bad font.
Keep your fonts classic. For education and business correspondences keep your fonts,
colors, and sizes classic. Your emails should be easy for people to read. Use 10- or
12-point type and an easy-to-read sans serif such as Arial or Calibri. Always use black
Do keep private material confidential.
Mistakes and errors happen frequently. Don’t fret if something is miscommunicated
between messages. Acknowledge the mistake, apologize if necessary, so that all
parties can move forward.