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Professional Etiquette as an Online Student

Learn to Communicate Effectively Via Email

Succeeding as an online learner requires effective, respectful email communication skills.  Walden instructors are happy to help, but—in a virtual environment—asking for and receiving instructional support often begins with email. If you are reaching out to an instructor or staff member for help or guidance, or if you are responding to an email from your instructor, remember to be clear and respectful in your communication.

7 Steps to Improve Email Etiquette

  1. Consider your Subject Line: A strong subject line will include your course number, as well as brief summary or explanation of what the email is about. 
    email example showing subject

  2. Open with a Greeting: Taking the time to greet the recipient of your email demonstrates your professionalism and sets the tone for the email.
    email example showing greeting

  3. Identify Yourself: Let your reader know who you are. If you do not have an established rapport with the recipient of your email, use your full name and mention your course number.
    email example showing introduction

  4. Clearly State your Purpose: Be specific when explaining your reason for emailing but avoid oversharing. Only provide context if it’s essential to making your point. If needed, you can always follow-up with additional details to clarify any remaining questions or confusion.
    email example showing email content

  5. Use a Neutral Tone and Avoid Offensive Language: Maintain a courteous tone throughout your email. Avoid writing in all capital letters, which signals an angry or combative tone.

  6. Close with a Signature: Sign your name and include a closing phrase, such as “Best,” “Cheers,” or “Thank you.”
    email example showing closing

  7. Proofread: We all make mistakes, especially when we’re in a rush, so be sure to give your writing one final look to catch typos and errors.

Email Dos and Don'ts Activity

Review these two emails sent from students. In the first example, click on the red X buttons to see how the student could improve their email etiquette.


Now that you’ve explored ways to improve your email etiquette, review this second email. Click on the green check mark buttons to see what this student did well.


Learn More:

The Office of Academic Support & Instructional Services offers many resources to help you master email etiquette. Check out this blog post with 5 Essential Tips for Email Etiquette.

Walden’s Student Affairs website on Email Conduct may also be helpful to you.