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Writing Emails: A Brief Tutorial And Sample

Dec 15, 13 Writing Emails: A Brief Tutorial And Sample

Writing a proper email is not hard, yet so many struggle with it. This is especially true with freshmen college students. For a generation that has grown up with computers, Internet, and email, they do not really know how to format much. Since one of redOrbit’s main areas of focus is technology, why not have a quick article outlining how to properly format an email?

Subject Line

The first thing to know is to include a relevant subject line. For instance, if a student wanted to ask a question about research for an upcoming paper, the subject line could be:

Question about Research

OR

Research Question for Next Essay

Or something like that. In this way, the professor knows right away that the student needs help with research. The subject line helps to prepare the receiver for what information the email holds.

Greeting or Salutation

Once typing the actual email, it is important to start with some sort of greeting. First of all, it is simply polite. Secondly, it is traditional.

Examples:

Dear Professor

OR

Hi Professor X

Make sure that the greeting is both respectful and reflective of the tone that the writer wants to convey to the reader. Audience is key to any writing, and this is especially true in letters and emails.

Message

Next, one needs to write a clear, concise message outlining the reason for the email. If one writes to ask questions about research, be sure to be clear in what information is needed. Again, consider that audience. Help them to help you. In email, the receiver can’t read minds, so make sure to include all relevant information as well.

Example:

I am really struggling to find reliable research for our next essay. Thus far I have completed a Google search and looked through different websites, but none have given me what I need to support my thesis. As a reminder, my thesis was “Students should not procrastinate because they will receive better grades, feel more confident, and be more prepared to learn and grow.” Could you please guide me in where else to look for research?

Closing

The final part of the email is the closing. Just like a greeting, the closing is both polite and traditional.

Examples:

Thanks,

Student A

Respectfully,

Student A

Plus, if one includes any attachments, one would want to indicate that under the closing or perhaps in the message itself.

Example:

Thanks,

Student A

see enclosed

So, here is how all of these look together:

To: Put Recipient’s Email Address Here

Subject: Research Question for Next Essay

Dear Professor,

I am really struggling to find reliable research for our next essay. Thus far I have completed a Google search and looked through different websites, but none have given me what I need to support my thesis. As a reminder, my thesis is “Students should not procrastinate because they will receive better grades, feel more confident, and be more prepared to learn and grow.” Could you please guide me in where else to look for research?

Thanks,

Student A

For more good information and examples, check out the Purdue OWL’s resources on writing emails here and here.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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About 

Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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