How to Email Teachers Without Boring Them

Have you recently started college or university? You might find yourself in a position where you may need to email your lecturer or professor. The kicker? You never learned how to write emails to professors or how to write one in a professional context.

Do a quick Google search for “email professors” and you’ll likely find a slew of complaints from professors and academics about poorly written student emails.

Although email can be a standard mode of communication between students and their teachers outside of the classroom, it is important to remember that emailing a teacher is different from sending SMS – it’s much more formal. You don’t want to pepper your email with emojis, slang, or acronyms.

So how do you write one without incurring the wrath of your teacher? And why is it even important?

Before hitting the “send” icon, you might want to proofread your email for grammar, punctuation, and typos. Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty Images/AFP

How to Email Your Teacher Without Boring Them

Email etiquette is an important real-world skill, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with it while you’re still a student.

An email represents you. Write an unprofessional email and you will come off as an unprofessional person. It’s that simple.

Poor email etiquette can also mean that your email could end up going unread.

Here’s a quick guide to help you master the basics of writing emails to professors:

Have a clear subject line

A subject line can affect whether or not an email is read.

This quote from Dr. MJ Toswell, a professor in the Department of English at Western University, sums up why having a clear subject line (and a professional email address!) is important:

“My all-time favorite was a sequence from last year on a Friday night. The first email at 8 p.m. asked if an assignment really needed to be submitted online on Monday night.

“The second email at 9 p.m. asked me why I hadn’t replied to the first email yet. Both were addressed “Hey” and sent from a private email address which landed in my spam so I didn’t see them until Saturday morning, and I almost deleted them as the subject line was blank too .

Greeting

First impressions count. How you greet others affects how others feel about you, and the same goes for email greetings.

Using greetings such as “Dear” or “Hello” followed by the academic’s name and/or title (e.g. Dr. AAA) can be a good way to start an email and convey respect. You can cross reference their names in the course syllabus.

Take it from Dr. Manina Jones from the Department of English Studies and Writing at Western University.

She was quoted as saying by Scribendi, “I must say that the absence of any greeting (to launch straight into ‘I want…’ or ‘Where is…’ or ‘Can I…’) …is the fastest way to get my back up before I even read the message body.

Introduce yourself

How well do you know your teacher? If the answer is “not good,” begin your email by introducing yourself, including your name and course.

Your teacher probably has many other students from different courses or classes emailing them throughout the week – a brief introduction to yourself can go a long way in helping them place you and respond to your email with what you need.

Why are you emailing them?

Keep your email short, simple, and to the point. Most importantly, ask your question or ask politely. If you have many requests or questions, list them clearly so your teacher can read them easily.

You don’t want to send many emails about multiple issues when you can organize your questions or requests into one organized email. Remember: Not everyone has the time (or the patience) to sift through long or unclear email copies.

The worst scenario? Your email may remain unread.

Sign out

Thank you is a safe signature, but you can also consider others such as “Best regards”, “Best regards” or “Sincerely”, followed by a signature or your name.

Your electronic signature can include your full name, major, and year of graduation.

You can always ask someone you trust to read your email before hitting the “send” button. Source: Wojtek Radwanski/AFP

Proofread your email

Their or they are? You where are you?

Typos and grammatical errors can happen for many reasons, including rushing for a deadline, writing in a second language, or simply being careless.

So before hitting the “send” button, you might want to read your email again for grammar, punctuation, and typos, or have a trusted friend go through your email to avoid embarrassing mistakes.

Alternatively, you can consider running your email through apps like Grammarly, which can help improve the quality or clarity of your writing.

And There you go. We hope you find these tips on how to write emails to professors helpful. For some, emailing an academic can be daunting at first, but with a little practice, you’ll get there in no time!

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