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Answered By: Kristie Keuntjes
Last Updated: May 12, 2017     Views: 53


  • Review campus policies on email and technology
  • What is the purpose of this email?
  • Is email the best communication modality or will a brief phone call or face-to-face discussion suffice? 
  • Tough conversations should not be held via email
  • Consider how the recipient will feel about this email
  • Assume your words will come back to you

Crafting the Email

  • Consider to whom this email should be sent.  Put thought into who "needs to know"
    • Copies should not be send to people two or more levels of authority above your own
    • Blind copies should seldom be used
    • Add recipient's address after proofreading the email.  This helps avoid any accidental submissions and can help keep feelings in check
  • Consider privacy - the email should state whether or not the communication is normal, personal, private, or confidential. 
    • If you do not indicate this in the email, the recipient may assume it is safe to forward the message
    • Private and confidential emails should be used sparingly - consider having a conversation face-to-face or over the phone
  • Use red flags sparingly
  • Add attachments before crafting the email
  • Use a formal greeting and formal, professional tone
    • Be polite
    • Use "please" and "thank you"
    • Choose words wisely
    • Avoid overcapitalization
      • "Please send me the report" is much better than SEND ME THE REPORT!
  • Always add a subject line that briefly summarizes the content of the message and prompts the reader on what to think about and how to respond
    • Instead of "Scholarships" use a subject line like "Scholarship recommendations due today"
  • Assume everyone is sensitive.  Wrong word choice can offend or damage relationships and make you appear self-centered and unprofessional
    • "Your budget report was confusing" can be interpreted as "You don't know how to write a coherent budget report" 
      • This can be reworded to "Please clarify a few points about your budget report"
    • Don't point out mistakes with a bad attitude
    • Don't get personal with criticism
  • Keep the message clear, brief, and easy to read
    • Sentences should be short and to the point
    • Use bullet points to organize thoughts
    • State the purpose of your email at the beginning
    • Limit the information being shared
  • Be sure to sign off with a polite greeting and your name

Before You Send the Email

  • Proofread!
    • Words shape your personal brand.  Your tone speaks volumes to your professionalism and capabilities especially in the eyes of colleagues and students you may rarely meet
    • An email filled with grammar and spelling errors can give the wrong impression and make you appear incompetent
  • Double-check you are sending the information to the correct person or persons
  • Check for any attachments you may have forgotten to include

Response Time and Emails

  • Be mindful of response time
  • When you do not respond promptly, it comes across as unorganized or unconcerned. 
  • Write a line back in acknowledgment and state you will attend to it shortly.
  • If you get an "email bomb" (an email eliciting a strong emotional or negative response), do the following:
    • Wait it out - do not reply hastily
    • Pause and breathe - wait at least 30 minutes before replying
    • Re-read the message and reply when you are in a more composed frame of mind

Resources Used/Further Reading

Appleman, J. E. (2012). Choose a tone produces results. Officepro, 72(3), 42-43.

Bevan, G. (2015). Email blunders may steal your thunder. Business Credit, 117(2), 28-29.

Bose, M. (2015). How to communicate effectively over emails at workplace. Retrieved from

Sikula Sr., A., Dodds, A. S., & Sikula, J. (2012). Eleven email etiquettes. Supervision, 73(5), 8.

Tindall, N. (2016). Email lessons for faculty. Retrieved from

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