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Email etiquette: Aim for formality

Photo Illustration by Michelle Nelson
Photo Illustration by Michelle Nelson

As the semester comes to a close, emails will be sent about due dates, projects and ominous finals. Students and professors alike may run into problems concerning email etiquette.

An email containing “text-speak” and poor punctuation might land someone in more hot water than they expected, especially since the skills learned during college will follow students into the real world.

A future employer may not be as forgiving of an email that has the phrase, “i will send over those docs 4 u 2day” as a professor might be.

In fact, a future employer may even see this as a reason to put an employee on probation. If the problem continues the employer might feel the need to take a more permanent action, such as letting the employee go.

Hailey Gillen is part of the communication department at Weber State University, “It is always better for emails to be too formal,” she said. “No one is ever going to complain that an email was too formal.”

Emails should always have a subject line. This helps the recipient know what the email will be about, and also prevents it from being sent into the spam folder.

“The subject line should be short and easily relatable to the email contents,” said Gillen.

Another way to ensure that an email sounds professional is to include both an opening and a closing. For the opening it is best to start with the recipient’s name.

“It is all about what students are comfortable with,” said Gillen. “Find an opening and closing that works for you.”

Emails that are professional, in subject matter and style, will be taken more seriously. These good email habits that can be formed during the college years can help translate into the real world after graduation.

Whitney Nixon, a freshman at Weber State, knows that there is a time and place for casual communications, but believes keeping it professional is best, “You never know where your next opportunity might come from.”

“Text-speak” has become a problem in many emails. Words are shortened and numbers are used in place of words such as “2” representing “to” and “4” taking the place of “for.”

“I like to keep my emails business casual,” said Emma Norris, a freshman at Weber State. Emma also believes that emails that containing text speak aren’t going to be taken very seriously.

“If I am going to take the time to read your email then you should take time to fix your grammar,” said Norris.

Another form of communication that has become quite popular in today’s society is that of text messaging. Although handy, it can be just as tricky as email when it comes to knowing what is appropriate and what is not.

A general rule that Gillen recommends for texting is to only use it as a form of communication if the recipient, either boss or professor, has used it first. Even then, it might be best to stick to emails, phone calls or face-to-face interaction.

Emails can be kept professional with just a few easy steps, and by doing so, students will have better lines of communications with their professors, bosses and co-workers.

“Overall it is best to keep them formal,” Gillen said. “And if there is ever a question of what is appropriate there are many online guides that can help students with email and texting etiquette.”

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