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Guidelines for Courteous Emails

Guidelines for Courteous Emails

Emailing a professor or staff member can be intimidating, even if you interact with them regularly. This page is intended to provide guidelines about how to write emails that express courtesy and the mutual respect between you and your professor, or whoever the recipient may be.  On this page you will find an outline of the basic foundations for effective email communication, as well as links to videos and other resources on the same subject. You will also find examples of emails written to professors regarding a variety of situations, as well as some examples of emails written to staff and peers on campus. 

Basic Guidelines

  • Make sure you have included the correct email address in the “To” line 
    • Check the professor’s syllabus for this information
  • Include a brief and informative subject
  • Greet the professor using their title and last name 
    • Eg Dr. Cody, Professor Buck
  • Use complete sentences and punctuation
    • Periods, question marks, commas
  • Be courteous and understanding of their limitations and boundaries
    • Availability to meet, ability or willingness to extend deadlines
  • Sign your full name*

Once the exchange has gone back and forth, you may start to exclude certain elements. Follow your professor’s cues from their emails to you. When in doubt, err on the side of formality over informality. 

*Your full name and student ID number are required for communication with the Financial Aid Office, Business Office, Registrar, and IT. Other campus offices may also request your ID number as needed. 

Links to Resources

Email Message Templates to Recruiters and Alumni

Grammarly Chrome Extension (This is a useful tool for ensuring you are using proper grammar and spelling.)

How to Write an Email to Your Professor, Instructor, or Teacher

How to Make a Polite Request via Email

How to write an effective e-mail [to your professor]

 

How to Write an Email to Your Professor…

 

…notifying them of an absence due to illness.

Subject: Absent Today Due to Illness

Email body:

Dear Professor Henriquez,

I regret to inform you that I will be absent from class today due to illness. I have attached my doctor’s note to this email for your records. I plan to get notes from today’s class from a friend. Is there anything else that you would suggest I do so that I am prepared for our next class? 

Thank you,

Jane Doe

…notifying them of an absence due to participation in an athletic competition.

Subject: Absent on Friday due to Tennis Tournament

Email body:

Hello Mr. De La Cruz,

I am emailing to remind you about the tennis tournament I will be participating in on Friday. I know we spoke about it at the beginning of the semester, but I wanted to make sure you were aware of the reason for my absence at the end of this week. I plan to get notes from Friday’s class from a friend, but I will also be missing the quiz at the beginning of class. How would you prefer for me to arrange a make-up for the quiz? Thank you for your help!

All the best,

John Doe

…requesting an extension on an assignment.

Subject: Extension request for essay 3

Email body:

Hello Dr. Spring,

Unfortunately, I am very behind schedule on writing essay 3 for your American Literature class. I do not believe that I will be able to submit an essay that meets the requirements of the prompt before the deadline on Wednesday. Would you be willing to extend the deadline to Friday evening? I understand if you are unwilling to agree to this request. Please let me know what you decide, or if you have any suggestions about how I should proceed. 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Jane Doe

…requesting information about an assignment.

Subject: Clarification about Lab Report 6

Email body:

Dear Professor Henriquez,

I am currently writing the lab report for Lab 6. Our physical lab manual contains instructions for the lab report, but these differ from the instructions posted on Brightspace. Would you please clarify which instructions we should follow? Thank you!

Best,

John Doe

…requesting a time to meet.

Subject: Booking a meeting

Email body:

Dear Mr. De La Cruz, 

I would like to meet with you to discuss my grade on my last assignment. Would you please direct me on how I can book an appointment with you? 

Thank you,

Jane Doe

…requesting that an exam be sent to the ADA Proctoring Center.

Subject: Proctored Exam 10/19

Email body:

Hello Dr. Spring, 

I have completed the ADA Proctor Request form for the exam in your class this Wednesday.  I wanted to confirm that you received the request. Would you please let me know when you have sent my exam to Mr. Krupar? Thank you for your help as I navigate this process, and please let me know if you need any more information.

Kind regards,

John Doe

 

 

How to Write an Email (extended edition)...

…to Financial Aid.

Subject: Financial Aid for Spring 2023

Email body: 

To whom it may concern,

I am a freshman undergraduate student at the University of Dallas. I have some questions about scholarships that I may be eligible for that I plan to apply towards my Spring 2023 university bill. What is the best way to arrange a meeting with someone from your office?

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Jane Doe

900123456

…to the Office of Personal Career Development.

Subject: Requesting Resume Help

Email body:

Dear Ms. Blatt, 

I am applying for multiple research internships this summer, and I am having some trouble formatting my resume, which I have attached to this email. Would you or one of your colleagues be available to help me craft my resume so that my applications are competitive? Thank you so much for your help!

Best,

John Doe

…to a tutor.

Subject: Tutoring location

Email body: 

Hi Charlie,

I have booked an appointment with you for Tuesday afternoon, but I was unsure about where I should meet you. Where do you typically tutor? 

Thanks!

John Doe

…to a peer mentor.

Subject: Mentoring questions

Email body: 

Hi Yadira,

I am struggling with some challenges associated with being a commuter student at UD. Would it be possible for us to meet to chat about ways to overcome those challenges? I appreciate your mentorship!

All the best,

Jane Doe

 

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