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

To start, here are some basic rules to follow:

  1. In your first email, it is better to be formal than informal. “Dear Professor X” works best.
  2. Let the subject line announce 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, 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, whether it is about a meeting, a question, or 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 using closing pleasantries and/or your email signature