Infographics for Writing Courses
Traci Gardner, Department of English, Virginia Tech

How to Email Your Professor

When Grades Are Based on LaborWant to write email messages to persuade your professor to help you? Follow these guidelines.

Identify Yourself Up Front

Don’t make me guess who you are

State how I know you in the beginning of your message. Don’t assume I will know which course section you’re in or which class you took in the past.

Provide Basic Details about Health Issues

Don’t share TMI about your health

No one wants to read how many times you “barfed your guts out” or hear the saga of how your cat, a torn carpet, and an order of Nachos BellGrande resulted in your broken ankle. Okay, that story might be interesting, but just say you have the flu or you broke your ankle.

Include Any Attachments

Don’t make me reply for more information

If you have a note from the doctor or the Dean, include it with your email. Don’t ask if I want to see it. That just means I have to reply to say I do. If all you have is a piece of paper, take a photo with your phone and send the photo with your message.

Make Reasonable Requests

Don’t ask for miracles

Don’t beg or demand things. Don’t ask me to do the impossible. Skip the sob stories. I don’t have a TARDIS, a Time-Turner, or a magic wand. Ask for things that are practical and fair, and I will do what I can.

Stick with Basic Explanations

Don’t bring the drama

Don’t tell complicated stories about why your work is late or why you need more time to revise. The more excuses you come up with, the less believable you sound. Just share the basics—and please don’t say some other course was a higher priority!

Tell Me How You Can Fix It

Don’t make me find the answer

Solve the issue yourself, if you can. If something is late, turn it in and tell me you’ve done so. If you can’t fix things, suggest a solution that would work—and tell me what you have already tried.


Credit: Infographic was created on Icons are all from The Noun Project Pro. This infographic shared under a CC-BY-SA-NC 4.0 International license.