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Writers' Center

Eastern Washington University

Writing an Effective Email to Your Professor

Writing an Effective Email

It is important to know how to communicate effectively to your professors through email. An email to a professor should be clear and professional.

Ineffective and Effective Emails

Here is an example of an ineffective email from a student:

Below is one approach to revising the ineffective email:

effective email

SUBJECT: Be sure to utilize the “subject” field in an email. This immediately orients your professor regarding the email’s content. It can be especially helpful to include the name of the course and the section number.

SALUTATION: This greeting line is known as the “salutation.” Since this is an email to your instructor, it’s better to err on the formal side. Begin your email with “dear” rather that “hi,” and address him or her as “Professor Jones” or “Dr. Jones” or “Instructor Jones” (whichever is accurate).

BODY OF THE EMAIL: Before writing the email, gather your thoughts. Make sure you know what your objective is for sending this email:

Why are you writing?

What are you asking of your instructor? Is there a deadline?

Also, do your “homework.” Show the professor that you’ve done a little sleuthing before you emailed him or her to figure out what you may have missed (for example, try checking the syllabus).

PROFESSIONALISM: Treat school like it’s your job (or one of them). Communicate to your professor as you would your supervisor at work. Be respectful and mindful of their time. This is a person who could write you a letter of recommendation one day.

Also, check for misspellings, grammar mistakes, or punctuation goofs.

FULL NAME: Be sure to include your first and last name. Yes, your name may be part of your email address, but save the professor some time by identifying yourself in the email (especially if your email is while charming, this does not identify you to your professor).


Curious about the differences between “CC” and “BCC” when emailing? Not sure about the appropriate time to use these email fields? Click HERE for more information.