ECON 2302 - Email Etiquette

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There are many documents that have been written on Email Etiquette so I am not going to reproduce them here. However, I will provide you with one link at the bottom of this page as an additional reference. But I wanted to provide you with a short list of some of my own that will help you in this course. Since email is the central means by which we communicate this is not a trivial issue.

  1. Write a meaningful subject line. Avoid "Hey" or "Economics" or "the class". These are not only unprofessional but they are simply unhelpful.
  2. Don't click reply to a message and then proceed to write about something unrelated to the original subject line. If you are writing something that is new then compose a fresh email with a new subject line.
  3. Try not to use the words "Urgent" or "Important". If the message is urgent or important this will be conveyed in your message. No need to put it in the subject line. Also avoid their close cousins "Help Needed!!" or "Please Respond!!". These convey panic and are not professional.
  4. Be very specific in your email when you need help. Don't simply say "I am having trouble with the assignment" or "This assignment is confusing". These types of statements don't provide any clarity. If you are having trouble with an assignment tell me which assignment it is by name. Don't just say "the problem set dealing with Chapter 3". Make it more specific by identifying it more concretely by saying something like the "problem set on Supply and Demand." More importantly you need to identify the number within the problem set that you are having difficulty with and what precisely you are having difficulty understanding. Example - "I don't understand the difference between and change in demand versus a change in quantity demanded."
  5. Identify yourself. If I receive an email from "" and you don't end your email with your name I won't know who you are. I get emails like this all the time. It's frustrating because it means I will have to reply and ask the person for their name before I can compose a response to their question.
  6. Tone. Email is a great tool and can be used to accomplish a lot that other forms of communication cannot. But it can also be used as a weapon. People will often say things in emails that they would never think of saying in person. If you've written an email like this then reconsider sending it.
  7. Spell check. There simply is no reason today with modern technology to send emails out with typos and spelling mistakes all over the place. Check your copy before sending it out. Of course there will be occasional errors but try to minimize them by spot checking your work.
  8. Emails are typically meant for brief and concise messages. If you need to write something that is very long then consider sending the rest of the message as an attachment or consider making a telephone call instead.

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