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Editorial | Make a good first impression, ace email etiquette 

By Editorial Board
On April 14, 2014

Ever wonder why, as a student, you have had times when you haven't gotten an email back from a professor or from a potential employer? Instead of wondering what you did wrong in your resume or cover letter, maybe it was just the poor email etiquette in your email.

Email etiquette has become increasingly one of the most important things to know and understand in our digital world. It is the main way you contact a professor, contact other students and send off job applications. Because of that, writing a proper, well-formulated email introducing yourself and what you need and ending it politely is so important.

The Miami Student Editorial board encourages students to read emails twice, even three times, for errors in grammar and proper sentence structure, because it does matter how you sound in an email no matter how trivial the question is. If you are unsure of how to address a professor, always resort to professor or Dr., if you know they have their PhD. It's a safer and more acceptable route then calling them by their first name, or addressing them incorrectly. If a professor then signs his or her first name at the bottom of the reply, that is their way of allowing you to call them by his or her first name in the future. But a good way to have a professor not respond or say "no" to your questions is to address them is to address them correctly.

It's also a good idea to be polite, to the point and nice in your email. No one wants to read a seven-paragraph email about why you have to miss class or why you want to turn in an assignment early. Professors and employers appreciate a quick read that gets right to the point. Because, let's be honest, they are real people just like us too, who don't have time to reply to a six-page email. It's also appropriate to be well-mannered and be careful not to come across as demanding. It is easy to come off in emails accidentally as being pushy, demanding and rude because the person you are asking can't see your body language or hear your tone of voice. Spend the extra time wording questions and statements so they sound polite. Just remember that first impressions really do matter - and an email counts as a first impression. Some other important tips to remember - avoid using caps if at all possible when sending emails to professors and employers. To you, it may off as you showing them how excited you are to apply for a job or ask to be a undergraduate assistant, but to those receiving the emails out of context, it may come off as you basically yelling at them.

Also avoid using texting acronyms in emails. Yes, this includes "btw," "probs" and "K." It doesn't look professional at all and even if you are really close with a teacher or your boss, still try to keep it classy. Emoticons are not okay either, especially the winky face. So keep the caps, emoticons and text acronyms just between you and your friends and out of emails. A good rule of thumb to remember: be informal, but not sloppy.

Don't always use emailing as a crutch either just to avoid meeting with someone in person. If at all possible, try to meet with teachers and employers face to face. This shows them that you are confident and is a great time to let your personality show through.

Even though emails may seem like the preferred method of contact in today's world, there are still people who really appreciate meeting for coffee and getting to know you in person.

Sending chain mails and junk mail to people who aren't your immediate friends is something else to avoid. A "do" though: make sure your signature includes proper contact information.

Keep some of these tips in mind from the editorial board next time you send an email and we promise you won't ever fail on email etiquette again.


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