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Online Communication

This guide is designed to provide students with guidance on the proper forms and protocols for communicating online both in college and professionally

Email Netiquette

Identify the Purpose:

Before you start drafting an email, it is important to understand what the purpose of the email is and who your audience will be. This is something you need to think about for any kind of writing and it influences the style and tone of your writing. 

Purpose may include:

  • Emailing a paper to a professor
  • Seeking clarification for assignments or due dates 
  • Responding to professor emails
  • Scheduling a meeting for office hours. 

Drafting your Email:

Appropriate Username
Make sure you use an email or username that is appropriate. It should be something that you will be comfortable saying out loud in front of a professional audience. This may be the first impression that you put forth to a professor or an employer.

It would also be helpful to include most of your first or last name, making it easy for your recipient to identify you. If you have a college or school email, be sure to use that email to communicate with your professors. 
 

Inappropriate Appropriate Ideal
xoxo_jbunny@gmail.com jlin@gmail.com Jennifer_Lindsey@gmail.com

Include a Subject Line 

Before you choose what to write for your subject line, make sure you check to see if your professor has specific requirements for email procedures in their course syllabus. If they do not have any requirements, you can put your name and course code in the subject line. This will help them identify you and give them a heads up on what you are emailing about.You can also give a brief description (2 - 3 words) about the content of your email so that it is easy to determine the urgency of your email. 

 

Inappropriate Appropriate Ideal
Essay question ENC 1101 - Proposal Paper Jennifer Lindsey - ENC 1101 Section 3B. Assignment due date.

If you are emailing someone who is not your professor your subject line should be something that will allow the recipient to identify you and the purpose of the email. 

Inappropriate Appropriate Ideal
Interested in Job Job Posting - Administrative Assistant Jennifer Lindsey - Administrative Candidate 

Greetings/Acknowledgements

Before you start typing your email you should always start with a greeting and, if available, include the recipient's name. Be careful about how you address your reader. For instance, beginning an email to your professor with “Hey!” might be perceived as being rude or presumptuous (as in “Hey you!”). If you are emailing your professor, the correct way to address them would be available to you in the course syllabus. You should take the time to check how to spell their name correctly. Including a greeting and acknowledgement in the beginning of your email shows a sense of respect.

If it is an employer, do some research to find a specific person to address in the email.  If you are not able to find a name, you may address the department or have a general greeting that is professional.
 

Greetings

  Appropriate Inappropriate
Professors / Instructors
  • Dear Professor XXXX, 
  • Hello Professor XXXX, 
  • Good morning Professor XXXX
  • Professor XXXX, 
  • Hey Prof., 
  • Dear (First name), 
Employers
  • Dear Sir, 
  • Dear Madam, 
  • Dear Sir/Madam 
  • Dear Mr. XXXX,
  • Dear Mrs. XXXX
  • Hey! 
  • Hi there, 
  • Dear (First name), 
  • Other Professional Entities
  • Dear Sir, 
  • Dear Madam, 
  • Dear Sir/Madam 
  • Dear Mr. XXXX,
  • Dear Mrs. XXXX 
  • To whom it may concern 
  • Hey! 
  • Hi there, 
     

Acknowledgements

  Appropriate Inappropriate
Professors / Instructors
  • Hope you are having a great day... 
  • I enjoyed your lecture on Monday...
  • Hope you are doing well…
  • How is it going? 
  • Thank you xoxo
Employers
  • Thank you for the opportunity for  an interview...
  • I really appreciate you taking the time to interview me...
  • How is it going? 
  • Thank you xoxo
  • Other Professional Entities
  • I am reaching out to you regarding…
  • It was a pleasure meeting you...
  • How is it going? 
  • Thank you xoxo

Message

Get to the point, the purpose of your e–mail. Attempt to avoid long stories and presenting of scenarios or situations you find need paragraphs to explain. When you communicate clearly or ask a direct question, you are more likely to receive a quick response. 

Example: “I need to clarify an aspect of the assignment due next week. Would you prefer the paper double spaced or single spaced?” 

Reflect on the tone of your message. When you are communicating through email, your words are not supported by gestures, or other cues, so it may be easier for someone to misread your tone. For example, sarcasm and jokes are often misinterpreted and may offend your audience. If you’re unsure about how your message might be received, you might try reading it out loud to a friend to test its tone.

Proper Email Message Format: 

  1. State your purpose of writing 
  2. Provide some context 
  3. Use short paragraphs to separate thoughts
  4. State desired outcome at the end of your message or next step. (If you are requesting a response, let the reader know) 

Concluding Your Email

 Once you have typed your message, make sure you sign-off and include your name before hitting send. 

Sign-off Examples: 

  • Sincerely, 
  • Best Regards, 
  • Regards,
     

 

Sending an email to a professor about a question for an assignment:

Dear Professor [NAME],

I hope you are doing well.

I have a question about [ASSIGNMENT_NAME] for your [CLASS_NAME] class, section [SECTION_#]. In the instruction sheet it says, “[QUOTE_HERE].” However, I am unsure if this means [X] or [Y]. I look forward to your clarification.

Best regards,

[YOUR_NAME]

 

Responding to a professor's email:

Dear Professor [NAME],

Thank you for the clarification; it was very helpful. I have an additional question. [QUESTION]? 

Best regards,

[YOUR_NAME]

 

Requesting a reference letter from a professor:

Dear Professor [NAME],

Your [CLASS NAMES] classes were some of the most enjoyable and beneficial classes for me in the program. I was hoping that, through these classes, you might know me well enough to write a positive letter of recommendation endorsing my candidacy for jobs in [FIELD and/or POSITION].

To assist you in writing this letter of recommendation, I have attached my cover letter, resume, and a summary sheet of key projects and papers I submitted for your classes. If you have any questions or need further information, I will gladly provide it. We may also meet in person to discuss this further.

Thank you for your time in both reviewing this request and providing valuable learning experiences in the classroom.

Sincerely,

[YOUR_NAME]

 

Sending an email to academic advising:

Dear [ACADEMIC ADVISOR],

I am [YOUR NAME] (student_ID#). I am a [full or part] -time student in the [PROGRAM_NAME] program with [NUMBER] credits left until completion of my degree. My expected degree completion date is [MONTH & YEAR]. I am writing to request assistance with selecting classes for this upcoming semester. I was considering taking [SUBJECTS]. I would like to know [QUESTION].

Best regards,

[YOUR_NAME]

Sample Email Template for Follow-up After a Job Application

 

Subject: Jane Doe - [Position title] Candidate

Dear Mr. Johnson,

My name is Jane Doe. I came across the opportunity for the position as a [Insert position title] and am interested. I have submitted my application and resume for you review and consideration. My experience in [List skill(s)] has prepared me to handle multiple tasks, which will be necessary for this position. 

After you have had an opportunity to review my resume, I would look forward to the opportunity to answer any questions you might have. I look forward to hearing back from you and would really appreciate an opportunity for an interview. Thank you for your time in reviewing my qualifications.

Regards,

Jane Doe

(386) 555-1234
janedoe@gmail.com

 

Sample Email Template for Follow-Up after a Job Interview
 

Subject: Follow-up regarding (insert position title)

 

Dear Mrs. Smith,


Thank you for taking the time to speak with me about the (Position title) role. It was great to meet with you on (day/date/time) and learn more about the position.

I am very excited about the opportunity to join (Company Name) and am particularly interested in the details you shared about the responsibilities of the position. I’m enthusiastic about the prospect of taking on these tasks and bringing my experience to this work environment.

After our conversation, I am confident that my qualifications and background in (area of employment, i.e., marketing) and my interest in (work aspect, i.e., project management) will enable me to fill the job requirements effectively and support the vision of (Company name). Please feel free to contact me if I can provide you with any further information. I look forward to hearing from you.


Sincerely, (or alternatively “Thanks again,”)

Jane Doe
(386) 555-1234
janedoe@gmail.com