I teach a Technical and Professional Writing course for juniors and seniors in disciplines across the curriculum. We discuss and practice writing in many different forms: correspondence, instructional, data analysis, and others. In the process of this course, I use email entirely for correspondence outside of the classroom. I expect return emails to be done in a formalized manner: salutation, body, and a proper closing. It is tiresome to get emails that are just attachments, or that don’t contain the name of who is writing me (this is especially bothersome early in the semester when I don’t know the names and email addresses of the students yet). My students are great about it and give me wonderful emails (my instructions were to be conversational in approach because we are spending an entire semester together and this allows me to get to know the students better).
Thank you for responding, but at the same time it is not your duty to counsel others on how to conduct themselves via email. I was never rude or inappropriate in any manner. I’ve had many professors and others I’m not well acquainted with who email me in the same fashion. There are many customs and practices and no single one is correct. You are the first person I’ve had an email exchange with that feels the need to reprimand me about email etiquette.
I’m a 33 year old man who doesn’t need to be told how to conduct myself. I do just fine. Hopefully, in the future you will be more relaxed with not only students, but any person who may be interested in talking to you about history. You will find that you shut out a lot of people in life by conducting yourself in this manner.
While it is true that there are many customs, there are also appropriate guidelines that we should follow when approaching someone to ask for assistance and whom we don’t know. In addition, perhaps it is important to remember that formality is a condition of a relationship. I write to plenty of friends and family without a proper salutation (I almost always close with my first initial — lowercase d), but I’m also very cognizant of my audience. When I write to a new professor, I always greet them with Dr. or Professor so-and-so. It is not until we’ve developed a relationship do I even ask how they would prefer to be addressed — even in email.
I believe my students deserve the same respect. I email them with a salutation, body, and a closing with my full first name — unless it is an ongoing conversation, and then I will often do without the salutation (and realize they may as well).
If I were to write an email to my husband’s pillow (if I had a husband and he had a pillow like this), on the other hand, I doubt it would get any respect from me. It may just get the trash.