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Email Etiquette for Adult Students

As an adult student, you're more mature about your attitude towards your studies than a younger student. You take your studies seriously and you're taking lessons to improve yourself and your future career opportunities. It's important to let your professors and instructors know just how serious you are about your studies and one of the easiest ways to do this is by correct email etiquette.

Why Is It Important

Correct email etiquette and proper email language presents a professional image. Creating professional looking emails for your studies will help you master the skill for use in the professional world. Email etiquette allows you to get your message across more efficiently without wasting the recipient's time. This is a skill valued by busy professors and instructors as well as management and bosses in the workplace.

Proper email etiquette increases the chance of more accurate and faster responses. It makes communication easier and more efficient by providing your recipient with all the information they need to respond without giving them more information than necessary.


You may have heard of this acronym before. It means Keep It Short and Simple (or perhaps back in your younger years it meant Keep It Simple Stupid).

An email should not be unnecessarily long. Reading from a computer monitor or small blackberry screen tends to be more difficult than reading printed communications. And since people tend to skim electronic copy, they may be tempted to not read a longer email. A numbered or bulleted list helps narrow down the specific information your seeking and lets your instructor know what you need at a glance.

Text Message Abbreviations Are Inappropriate

You have a full-sized keyboard on your computer. Use it. Abbreviations are meant to be used on a cell phone pad for faster communications. Not everyone knows these abbreviations and you could end up confusing or frustrating your recipient.

Along the same lines, use proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. Use sentences with full stops to make your message easier to read. You are, after all, an adult pursuing post secondary education communicating with other adults and not a 15-year-old teenager sending out drivel messages to friends. Use your email programs spell check feature. You can set it to automatically check all outgoing messages.

Avoid all-caps. They're difficult to read and don't emphasize your message. In the email world, they're used to convey shouting which is often annoying.

Sign Your Full Name

Even if you've emailed your professor, instructor or other people several times in the past, always include your full name with every email. You can create a signature in your email program that automatically adds your full name to each message sent. It's also a good idea to include your email address since not everyone's email program will show your address when you send your message. Include the class as well at the end of your message, but not in your signature.

A Clear Subject Line

You want to make sure your subject line lets your recipient know what the message is about in a glance. When sending a message to a professor or instructor about a certain class, include the name of the class. An example would be Your Name: Question About (Insert class name). This instantly lets your instructor know who the email is coming from and what it deals with. A subject line 50 characters or shorter is often a good idea although this isn't always realistically possible.


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