Use a clear, specific subject line
✗ question for paper
✓ Question about ENGL 105 Feeder 1.1 prompt
✓ 11/5 2 PM office hour meeting request
Use appropriate names
✗ John Smith
✓ Professor Smith (unless otherwise indicated)
✗ I am Juan.
✓ This is Juan, from your ENGL 105 section.
State your purpose in the first lines
✗ I have some questions about the reading and was wondering if I could ask you some questions.
✓ I was wondering if I can make an appointment with you on Monday at 2 to discuss some questions I have about the reading material.
✗ I’m really sorry about this e-mail, but lately I have sudden responsibilities and it’s been getting hard to manage everything.
✓ May I ask for an extension on essay 1? I have several other deadlines on the same day and would like 2 extra days to develop it.
Use polite phrases
✗ Send me the document ASAP.
✓ Please e-mail me the document as soon as possible. Thanks very much.
✗ Send me your reply.
✓ If you can reply to confirm the details, that would be great.
Proofread for spelling/grammar errors
✗ Is their a page limit?
✓ Is there a page limit?
✗ I can definately make the the time.
✓ I can definitely make the time.
|✗ poorly written e-mail
I have some questions about the reading but can’t come to your office hour.
|✓ well-written e-mail
FROM: Tina Fei
I appreciate your help.
|✓ Polite openings
People you don’t know: title and family name
Professors and other professionals: address them based on however they’ve signed
|✓ Polite closings
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.
You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout (just click print) and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
If you enjoy using our handouts, we appreciate contributions of acknowledgement.