Writing E-mail

Tips

Use a clear, specific subject line

question for paper
Question about ENGL 105 Feeder 1.1 prompt

meeting
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.

Samples

✗ poorly written e-mail

FROM: 费婷
SUBJ: Hello!

I am Tina Fei. I have some questions about the reading but can’t come to your office hour.
I will come to ur office at 2:00 tomorrow instead.

Thx!

a

Untranslated name
Unclear subject line

Unclear how the e-mail sender knows the recipient
Decision made without consent

Internet slang

✓ well-written e-mail

FROM: Tina Fei
SUBJ: 4/2 meeting request

Prof. Smith,
a
I’m a student in your BIOL 101 – 001 class. I have some questions about last week’s reading material and would like to discuss them with you.

Unfortunately, I have another class during your office hours. Could I make an appointment to see you at another time? Are you available at 2:00 tomorrow?

I appreciate your help.

Sincerely,
Tina Fei

a

a
Clear subject line

Appropriate opening
a
Introduction in context
a
Clear purpose

a
a
Polite phrasing
Specific question

Polite phrasing

Appropriate closing

Useful phrases

Polite openings

People you don’t know: title and family name

Prof. Smith
Ms. Smith
Dear Ms. Smith

Professors and other professionals: address them based on however they’ve signed

Jane Doe → Dear Ms. Doe
JD → Dear Ms. Doe
Jane → Dear Jane

Polite closings

Polite generic

Sincerely
Regards
Best regards
Best

Formal

Cordially
Yours truly

Informal

Cheers
Have a great weekend


Creative Commons License 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.