When on-line, either in a "classroom" or composing an email, your written
communication has the power to either help or hurt in your efforts to become educated.
Because your writing is your representative to your peers and
What does your writing say about you?
What are YOUR Needs?
When you write an email, it is usually because you need something from the recipient. You might
need: clarification on a reading, assignment, exam, GRADE, deadlines, etc.
Some email-writers get helpful answers; some never get replies; a few will receive irate emails
from professors who feel disrespected by either the form, the content or the tone of the email.
It’s not a Riddle! There are ways to get
the response you want with email!
This document instructs you how to send effective emails and therefore get your needs met in
college. You won't offend readers with your formal standards, but you will misrepresent yourself with
informal or sloppy writing. Yes, it takes a little more time, and your reputation is worth it.
Part One: Step by step Model
1. Use a salutation,
addressing the person to whom you are writing (“Hello Jane,” (classmate) or “Dear Professor Conway”).
yourself (“This is Stephanie Stephens”).
your course (“from your public speaking course”).
Most of your professors
have approximately 100 students each semester; although by the 4th week I know each of you by name, I need this information
in the digital context to place you.
4. State the
purpose of your email (“I am writing to ask you if the Source Assignment is due this Monday”).
5. Make sure
you show that you have read the documents to which you refer; otherwise, I will simply direct you to those documents (“After
reading the syllabus, I am unsure if the assignment is due by Monday or if we only have 2 questions due by Monday?”)
6. Do not ask the professor to reply to a different email address than the one you are
Part Two: Rules to Write By
1. NO CAPS!!!! NO EXCESSIVE PUNCTUATION!!!!!! IT READS LIKE YOU ARE SHOUTING, WHICH
IS GREAT FOR THE PHILLIES, MARY J. BLIGE CONCERTS, OR POLITICAL CONVENTIONS, BUT NOT FOR COLLEGE LEVEL WRITING! (See what I mean? It’s too emphatic.)
for the same reasons
no dropped caps or dropped punctuation either i cant rlly undstnd when thers no punct or no cap i i isnt even a word is it
unlss u r eecummings ha ha (See what I mean? Quite a challenge to decipher!)
2. No txt
msg, k? Lol. U
nd to wrt so you are clearly understood. Most texting is too abbreviated to be concrete enough for you to get your
3. No flames! Follow the Platinum Rule:
Treat others the way they should be treated (note this is different from the Golden rule – what may be acceptable to
you could be abusive to others). If you are very mad or in attack mode, save the email as a draft, and sleep on it. Then reconsider
if you want to send the email with less emotion. Undoing relational damage is much harder than preventing it.
4. No accusations -- use questions, instead. If you think your professor made a mistake,
state that clearly in a non-accusatory way. We all make mistakes, and I am always happy to correct those I make.
5. Follow-up! If you send an
email asking a Question and then discover the answer on your own, send a 2nd email updating me on your progress.
“What do we have to
do this week”
“Dear Professor Conway,
My name is Elton Brand and
I am in your Women’s Studies class.
After reading all of the
documents this week, I am unsure of what is due this Sunday. Are all of the forums due on Sunday, or just my replies to other
students? I think that my replies to the Forum Qs are due on Wednesday – is this right?
And then by Sunday I must reply to two other students. (?)
WHY DID YOU GIVE ME AN F????
Hello Professor Conway,
This is Michelle Obama and
I am in your Women in Literature class. (I loved the short story by Alice Walker last week).
I am writing because I submitted
my formal paper assignment about 3 minutes after midnight on Sunday (the deadline), but when I looked at the grade book the
very next day, I saw that I received an “F” for the work.
I know that midnight is the
deadline, but I worked really hard and I thought that 3 minutes wouldn’t be too late.
I hope you can accept it.