Despite advances in technology, e-mail has remained the preferred mode of communication in virtually all industries, including education, and it is not going anywhere anytime soon. Many of you attend schools which have transitioned to using Google Apps for Education and part of that involves having a school issued e-mail. As a result, you probably find yourself e-mailing your teachers quite often. Because of this, it’s important you learn the fundamentals of e-mail etiquette. Understanding the do’s and don’ts of e-mail will serve you well beyond your high school years.
1. Start with an appropriate subject line
When writing an e-mail to your teacher, an administrator, a potential employer, or the college admissions representative you’ve been corresponding with, use the subject line to specify the content of your e-mail, don’t leave it blank. Help Desk senior Nick Merlino, President of the Executive Board of the BHS Student Council, frequently sends e-mails to teachers and administration and uses subject lines including:
“Communications Committee Meeting Next Wednesday, 11/13”
“Halloween Dance Prizes”
Clearly, Nick uses appropriate subject lines and his e-mail recipients know what to expect prior to opening and reading the body of the e-mail.
2. Start your e-mail with a greeting & use appropriate titles
Every e-mail should start with a greeting, or a salutation. There are several options for a greeting including:
To Whom It May Concern
The greeting you select depends on the type of relationship you have with the receiver as well as the number of recipients. Here are some ground rules regarding salutations:
1. When writing to a teacher, it is best to start with Dear Mr., Mrs., or Ms.
2. When writing to a group of people, use “Greetings” or “Hello Everyone”
3. Reserve “Hi” for people you have close, established relationships with
4. Use “To Whom It May Concern” when you are unsure of who will receive your e-mail
You may refer to your teachers by their nicknames when speaking in person, but when e-mailing, stick to a more formal greeting and title, unless your teacher tells you otherwise.
3. Avoid text language & watch your tone.
“BTW, our meeting starts @ 2. Gonna be gr8!”
THIS IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR AN E-MAIL!!!!!!!! Adhere to the rules of the English language when writing e-mails. Avoid slang, use proper capitalization, punctuation, and grammar, and remember that all caps signifies YOU ARE YELLING at the recipient. Also, repeated punctuation marks can come across as angry, so be careful. On the flip side, “I’m excited to implement this idea!!” sends an enthusiastic and positive tone. The bottom line is that e-mail is one-way communication and the tone of your message can be easily misunderstood, especially if your intention is to discuss a sensitive topic. Choose your words wisely and read the e-mail out loud before you hit send.
4. Consider the purpose of the communication
As mentioned, if the subject matter of your e-mail is sensitive or complicated, it may be more appropriate to send an e-mail simply to request an in-person meeting so a two-way conversation can take place. In some circumstances, you may want to bypass e-mail entirely. For example, if you are requesting a teacher write you letter of recommendation, you may want to considering making that request in person.
5. The closing of your e-mail
Finish your e-mail with an appropriate closing. Several options for your e-mail closing include:
- Yours Truly
- Thank you
Just as you would officially end a a face to face or phone conversation, use a closing to officially end an e-mail.
We hope these tips will help you as you continue to communicate with your teachers via e-mail.