Email Etiquette for the Scholar Practitioner -->

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Email Etiquette for the Scholar Practitioner

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If you’re a working student, you’re probably swimming in emails every day. But have you ever been taught how to compose an effective email? Read on for some tips to take your emails up a notch.

Email Etiquette for the Scholar Practitioner

Is Email the Best Option?
Before you start writing, consider whether email is the best way to get the information you need. Is the information already available to you through your syllabus, textbooks, or the course or department website? If you’re emailing a department here at Walden, you may want to see if they have chat services available for urgent questions, as many offices have a policy of replying to emails within 24 hours. Email may not be the fastest way to get the answer to your question, so it’s best to consider other resources first.

The Logistics of Your Email
Although email has a great deal in common with other forms of communication, there are some unique conventions and concerns that you should be aware of:
  • If you are emailing in your role as a Walden student, it’s best to email from your Walden email address so that the recipient knows exactly who is writing them. 
  • To avoid sending your message before you have finished composing it, wait until after you have finished writing your email to add the recipient’s email address. Double check that you have included the correct address so that your message reaches its intended recipient.
  • Include a clear subject line for your message. Question isn’t very clear. Question about EDUC 5243 Week 3 Application Assignment gives the recipient a much better sense of the content of your message.
  • Open your email with a greeting. Unless you have been told to do otherwise, use your professor’s proper title (Professor, Dr., etc.) as a sign of respect.
  • Include identifying information, including your full name and, if applicable, your class, section, and the specific assignment or topic you are concerned about.
  • Give the recipient adequate time to respond before sending additional emails to follow up. Although you may do your academic work on the weekend or late at night, the recipient may not be able to respond until normal business hours. It’s important to recognize that email is a fast means of communication but is not immediate.
  • Use the high priority option sparingly. Overusing this option may lead to a true emergency being overlooked in the future.

The Tone of Your Email
Because email can involve formal communication but does not take place face-to-face, it’s incredibly important to be mindful of your tone. Use a polite tone by employing “magic words” like “please” and “thank you.” Express appreciation for the time that the recipient spends reading and responding to your message. If you are writing because you are angry or frustrated, take the time to cool down before sending your message. Above all, remember that email lasts forever: don’t send anything in an email that you wouldn’t want on the public record.

The Content of Your Email
It’s important to take a polite tone in your email, but since most people receive a great deal of email each day, it is also ideal to get to your main point quickly. To save time emailing back and forth with your recipient for additional clarity, be sure to provide all of the necessary information in your original message.
Editing Your Email
You may be tempted to use abbreviated, texting style communication via email, but it is much more professional to use standard written English. Avoid abbreviations, use emoticons sparingly, use appropriate punctuation and capitalization, and avoid using all caps unless you want to appear as though you are shouting. Before you send your message, proofread it carefully, paying special attention to the recipient’s name: there is no quicker way to annoy someone than to misspell their name in a message that asks something of them!

Sample Email Script
If you are wondering what these guidelines look like in practice, here is a sample email that you can use as a model for your own messages:
Hello, Professor Zimmerman.

I hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend.

I’m in your Primary Care Nursing course. NURS 6565. I’m currently working on the GI Disorders assignment, and I was wondering if I should include an abstract for this paper. I’ve looked in the syllabus and on the course site, and I don’t see mention of an abstract requirement, but I wanted to check with you to make sure that one is not needed. Can you please let me know whether I should include an abstract in this paper?

Thank you,

Veronica Eloise Middletonburyhall

Did you know that the Writing Center offers support via email? You can send your questions about writing and APA Style to and your questions about writing capstone documents to We’d love to hear from you!

Cheryl Read Author Image

Cheryl Read
 is a Writing Instructor in the Walden University Writing Center. She’s a big fan of etiquette as a way to make our world a kinder, more respectful place. When she’s not helping student writers at Walden, Cheryl stays busy playing with her son and working on her dissertation.

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