Emailing seems like a simple thing, but really even for the most seasoned of emailers can be a challenge. What should I make the subject of this email? Did my point come across clearly? How formal do I need to make this email? These are all questions we ask ourselves all the time. Despite the challenge crafting an email can be it is a critically important skill, especially as a college student and eventually a working professional. So, the Academic Guides have created some basic rules of the road for emailing and have created some templates based on different scenarios to help you navigate emailing in college.

So, to start, here are some basic rules to follow:

1.     In a first email it is always better to be formal than informal. So it’s best not to start your first email to your new professor, “Hey Proff…”, and yes this is how a student actually started an email once.  Instead a classic “Dear Professor X” works best.

2.     Let your subject line announce what is your purpose for emailing. For example, “Help” is not all that useful or telling. Whereas, “Question about Essay Assignment in ENG 101” is much clearer.

3.     Be sure to introduce yourself with clarifying information, such as your year and what class you are in or other important details, as both professors and staff meet with lots of different students in different capacities.

4.     Be clear with what you are asking about/for, whether it is a meeting, a question, a letter of recommendation.

5.     Be sure to thank the person for their time and help/consideration.

With these basic rules in mind, here is a general format of emails:

·      Step 1: Greetings

·      Step 2: Introduce Yourself

·      Step 3: Address the main purpose of your email

·      Step 4: Additional Explanation/Information

·      Step 5: Show Appreciation

·      Step 6: Sign off

Email to Professor about Meeting Outside of Office Hours

Dear Professor* [Insert Professor’s Name],

I hope this email finds you well. My name is [insert name}, a student in your [insert class name] class. I know in the syllabus it outlines your office hours are [insert office hours]. Unfortunately, I am not able to make those hours because of [reason for not being able to attend]. I was wanting to come by and discuss [what you want to discuss] and I was wondering if there was another time that you were available to meet? I am free [list windows of time that you are free]. Would any of these times work for you? If not, when might you be available?

Thank you in advance for your time and flexibility. I look forward to meeting with you soon.


[Your Name]