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A colleague who is an academic sent this to me and I would like to share it with you. By sharing it with your students you may save some time as the template it provides will ensure that your students’ emails are clear and appropriate for academia.

While this article is aimed at students, it provides excellent information not only on emailing professors but on writing emails in academia in general. Purposes for academic emails can range from contacting fellow academics, colleagues or professors for joint projects, research papers, applications, scholarships, grants, publishing or other academic purposes.

As most everyday writing in English is informal, it is very important to ensure that emails to people in academia are formal, clear and professional. This article provides useful guidelines on this. In my view, it important that we train our students to write these types of emails as contacts are very important and writing in an inappropriate way gives the wrong impression and can lead to lost opportunities.

I disagree with what the article says about salutations (Element #1: Salutations). Dear …. is the default in English. It is neutral and does not have the familiarity of Mila… in Czech. I never use Hello unless I know the person well. I personally never use Hi in academia.

Regarding titles (Element #2: Honorific), I completely agree with the article that using the title Professor or Dr. is the best option. It is usually possible to use one of these titles for teaching and research staff. In cases where these are not possible I highly recommend using the gender neutral term Ms. instead of Mrs. or Miss. This is the default female title for addressing women used in academic institutions and international organisations such as the European Union.

I hope that you will find this article useful and I would be curious to hear whether it is helpful for you and your students.


Pamela Cotte

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