Email Etiquette

Emailing a faculty member can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know them very well.  Getting an email started can be the hardest part of reaching out.  Thankfully, there are a few guiding rules that can help you start off on the right foot!

Proper salutation

  • Always start out your email with a polite “Dear” or “Hello” followed by your professor’s name/title (Dr. XYZ, Professor XYZ, etc.).  If you’re not sure what their proper title is, using “Professor” followed by their last name is almost always a safe bet.
  • Tip: If you want to know their proper title, check the class syllabus!

Introduce yourself

  • Even if your professor knows who you are, it can never hurt to give a brief introduction.  Simply giving your preferred name, year, major, and the course you’re enrolled in can provide a great deal of context.

Use correct grammar and spelling

  • An email is more formal than a text or message on social media, so be sure this is reflected in your writing (no abbreviations/acronyms).  Be sure not only to use spelling/grammar check, but also proofread the email.  You can even ask a friend or roommate to give it one final read-through.

Use a formal closing

  • Conclude your email with a closing, such as “Best regards”, “Sincerely”, or “Thank you” followed by your name.
  • Tip: Set up a signature on your Purdue email account that include your full name, major, and intended graduation year. To learn how to do this, click here.

Example email to a professor:


Dear Professor Smith,
My name is Emma Jones and I am a sophomore in your Tuesday/Thursday General Physics Class. I am writing because in class yesterday you mentioned having some open positions in your research lab. I found the summary of your project very interesting, and I would like to learn more and possibly talk to you about joining the lab. Is there a time in the coming weeks that we could meet?

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Best regards, Emma
Emma Jones
Student ID: 123456
Applied Physics, Class of 2022

Carol Randel I enjoy sharing professional intervention, guidance and advocacy for my students as they move toward independence, maturity, purpose in life and meaningful work. I am energized in those moments when they discover new things about themselves and find ways to develop and share their gifts, talents, skills and abilities.
-Carol Randel