Email communication is a valuable professional tool. Following are some recommended etiquette guidelines to ensure both the sender and the responder are satisfied with this method of communication.
How to be understood
• Be organized so the responder can follow clearly;
• Use a salutation with each email (e.g. Dear, Hello, Hi);
• Be concise, but remember to use please and thank you;
• Follow the rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation;
• Helpful: Using periods to end sentences and capital letters to begin sentences. Do a spell check before you press ‘Send’;
• Non-Helpful: Writing sentences in all capital letters. Using all capital letters comes across as yelling, and more important, script that is written in all capital letters is difficult to read;
• Avoid abbreviations as these may not be understood by the recipient;
• Avoid “smilies” as the meanings of these symbols are not universal and could lead to misinterpretation.
How to send attachments
• If sending an attachment is required, attach only the page(s) needed to answer your question.
How to use email with faculty members
• Most helpful for you: Asking questions to clarify deadlines, assignment format, and confusing concepts from classroom presentations and/or readings (faculty members may choose to address these matters with the entire class).
• Least helpful for you: Asking questions about specific content related to a group or an independent assignment; often these questions are best answered through a face-to-face dialogue as the person answering the question(s) can ascertain whether you understand the answer(s) and whether you have new questions based on the answer(s). Sending emails back and forth can be inefficient and ineffective because the email context does not allow for nonverbal communication.
• Arranging to meet with a faculty member may be a better alternative for answering these questions and may be suggested by a faculty member.
• When emailing, expect at least one full school day before getting a response, as faculty need to prioritize commitments and responsibilities.