How to Write an Email

My Email

My email address is given to you on the first day of class. It is also listed on both the syllabus and the policies and procedures document in Canvas. I do not include it on this website because I don’t wish to fill my inbox with spam. 

Also, recall from the syllabus that I have specific email hours (6am Monday - 4pm Friday).
I will respond to all emails within 24 weekday hours with the following exceptions:

• Official college holidays
• The holidays of Passover, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur
• Necessary leaves of absence due to illness or professional obligations

Please bear in mind when you’re awaiting a response that, even with these few exceptions, the standards for response time are far more stringent on professors than on students. That is, students are expected to check email a few times a week and will always have due dates and instructions weeks ahead of their deadlines. I will generally respond to you within 24 hours and often much sooner.

General Instructions

You should treat our email correspondence with the same respect as any business or legal communication. Our college is a community based on mutual respect and courtesy. Emails that do not conform to the following standards run the risk of not being answered. Particularly egregious emails could result in disciplinary action. What follows is an example of proper email etiquette.

Good Example

The Subject line is clear and includes the course number and section, It also includes the topic the student needs to address, which helps me on my end because I generally have a lot of emails to orgainze. The email is addressed and closed politely, including both the instructor’s and student’s names. The body text states the needs of the student with both brevity and clarity. Remember, there needs to be enough information included in your email so that your question can be answered or your request adequately covered. Finally, the sender is identified so I know with whom I’m corresponding. 


Bad Example

This is obviously the bad example (on multiple levels).
• The email is neither addressed courteously nor written in a professional manner (proofread!). This speaks not only to the student’s poor character, but to his or her indifference to the professor’s time and to the course itself.
• The subject line provides no information about the course or sender. When a student does this, I have a harder time identifying the content covered in that particular course section, making it harder to address his or her specific need.
• The body uses "text message" vocabulary, which will make the email much harder to understand.
• The problem is not clearly stated and the request (“PXT2 ME/please explain that to me”) is unreasonable. Instructors simply do not have the time to repeat an entire lesson because a student has written a vague request. Professors will point you in the right direction, but if the request is not clear, they will not be able to help you effectively.
• Finally, be sure to send your email from your college .edu email account. This is the only way we can verify you are who you say.

Further Instructions for Email 

Because I teach multiple classes, it is essential to include the course number (e.g. the two digits in bold: PHIL1301.H91) in the subject of your email as well as your first and last name in the body text.

If you tell me later that you “sent me an email,” and it did not conform to course requirements, you can be assured it was dismissed. It is in your best interests to write your course emails with intelligence and respect. Also, I have no way to confirm your identity unless you use your .edu account. Because of this, I will ignore all emails sent from other accounts regardless of subject or how the author identifies him or herself.