Email a Professor

This article provides a quick list of things to remember when emailing your professors.

This tumblr provides a funnier rendition of the same information.

First and foremost, check your Temple email daily. If you do not use your Temple email, let me know what email address you do use. I will send out regular announcements about class, assignments, events, etc. Many of your questions have probably already been answered in the syllabus, on this website, or in an email. Check these places first before asking your question.

The rules of email etiquette are both quite basic and often forgotten. I do not respond to emails in the 24 hours before an assignment is due. Start your project early so you can get your questions answered before the last minute. I also am more inclined to respond to professional emails, than unprofessional ones. Be sure you are clear as to what you are asking, otherwise I will not know how to help you.

Other Basic Email Etiquette (or how to get your emails read and responded to):

  • ALWAYS SIGN YOUR FULL NAME–the “from” line doesn’t automatically include your name.
  • Include the course number in your subject line and specify exactly which course and assignment your email refers to. “Question about MSP 4541 assignment” is clear and sounds genuine, while “a question” looks like spam. It’s a drag to get an email that merely says “I’m in your  class and need the assignment.”
  • Start a new email for a new topic–this means that you should not dig through your email inbox, find an old email your Professor sent out welcoming everyone to the course, and hit reply when you are notifying them you will not be in class that day (or whatever your topic may be). Start a brand new email thread titled something like “MSP 4541–Absence on January 29th.”
  • Choose an appropriate greeting. “Hi/Hello Professor [Blank]” is always appropriate. Address your Professor or in the way that they have asked you to do so. If a Professor has not indicated this, use “Professor [last name]” or “Dr. [last name]. It is considered bad form to use non-professional titles such as “Ms.”, “Mr.” “Mrs.”, etc. Aside from the fact that using these titles makes you  assume things about their gender identity that you shouldn’t, your Professors went to school for a very, very long time to earn their PhD and the title that comes with it.
  • Ask politely. “Could you e-mail me the page numbers for the next reading? Thanks!” is a lot better than “I need the assignment.”
  • Proofread what you’ve written. You want your e-mail to show you in the best possible light. Your emails should sound as professional as your written assignments–your professionalism is measured by your communication skills (in class, in email, in conversations after class, etc.). Use complete sentences and correct grammar, and avoid IM-speak or texting language.
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