At the moment, our computer science bachelors students are carrying out their final presentations and my inbox is flooded with emails that all read "Hi, here is our thesis." OK. I allowed myself to exaggerate that statement just a bit for dramatic effect. It isn't, however, that gross of an exaggeration.
I decided that I would develop a list of emailing rules, and if I can get them refined enough, I will use them to help guide students on how they can most efficiently communicate with me (hoping, in the process to help them towards writing more professional emails and at the same time keeping my own email skills honed).
- Please put the name of the project that you are communicating about in the subject line of the email.
- Please put a keyword that reveals the nature of the issue in the subject line of the email. For urgent issues, you can also include the words "time sensitive".
- Please start the email with one sentence that states what you need or what you are asking. Then, if there are additional explanations, put them in the second paragraph. The supporting information is very welcome, but please do not bury the main question or request deep in the email.
- If you are referencing a past email, please include a copy of the past email in your email.
- If you are referring to a date, please write Friday 28 June and not "next Friday". If you need to refer to a time, please repeat the relevant dates, e.g., "A week before our presentation, which is scheduled for Thursday 4 July."
- If you are referring to a URL mentioned in a past email, please repeat the URL in every future mail that needs to make the same reference.
- If you are write an email and expect that the answer will be relevant to the whole project team, please put all the members of the team on cc so that the answer can go via reply-to-all instead of forwarding them the answer afterwards. (This let's everyone involved in the communication know exactly who knows what.)