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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

Writing academic emails


There are times at university when you need to email your lecturers, tutors, or other university staff members to communicate personal or non-public matters.

University emails are generally expected to be concise pieces of formal or semi-formal written communication. Learning how to structure an academic email, and the content to include, can help you get your message or request across clearly and effectively.

Explore this tutorial to learn about writing academic emails.

Paper plane sent as an email

Image: OlgaStrelnikova/

Emails generally include the following sections:

  • subject line
  • terms of address or greetings
  • content
  • sign off

Select a tab to read about the different parts of an academic email.

Make sure all your emails have a subject line. Emails with no subject line are sometimes ignored as they may look like spam or scams.

  • Emails are usually read by priority and relevance. Subject lines should explain the purpose of the email.
  • Be brief. You don't need to write full sentences in the subject line.
  • If you’re emailing regarding a specific unit, add the unit code or title. Your lecturers and tutors usually teach more than one unit, so including the unit code can help them to figure out which unit you are emailing about.


Final assignment extension-Unit B.S.1452


  • Use your RMIT student email for your university communications.
  • Academic emails are expected to be formal, so avoid slang, abbreviations, or emojis in your emails unless you know the recipient well.

Icon modified from Happy Art/

Studies have shown that your email greeting can have an impact on whether the recipient decides to continue reading. These tips will help you choose the right greeting.

How well do you know the person?
If you have never met or emailed a staff member, it is better to be formal. For example, you can use their academic title and their last name.

If possible, ask the recipient how they would like you to address them. For example, by their first name, their title or last name.

Check the title and preferred pronouns 
Academic staff at university usually have a page in the staff directory where you can find more about their title or preferred pronouns (e.g. he/she/they).

Choose an appropriate salutation 
If this is your first time emailing someone, choose a formal salutation like Dear. Avoid colloquial and informal salutations like G’day or Hey. You should only use informal salutations if you know the person well.

Here is a list of email greetings and when to use them.

Staff at university may receive numerous emails every day, so it is important to be concise and explain your questions or requests clearly.

Important points come first
Put the essential information at the start of your email.

Short and explicit
Make sure to explain your questions and requests briefly and explicitly. Avoid adding unnecessary details.

Structured and concise
Write the content in paragraphs but make sure to make them as short as possible.

Use bullet points to explain your main points
If your email contains a lot of content, use lists or bullet points rather than long paragraphs. Bullet points are easier to read and follow.

Include student ID and/or unit code
If your email is about a specific unit, make sure to mention the name or unit code in your email or subject line. It’s also helpful to include your student ID in your email so the recipient can find your information faster.

Be formal and polite
Emails are legal documents, so you should make sure that your language is formal and respectful. Avoid discussing any non-academic issues in your emails when contacting university staff.

Like greetings, email closings should be selected carefully and according to the purpose of the email and your relationship with the email recipient.

At the end of your email, include a thank you message and choose an email ending that matches the formality of your greeting.

Include your full name and student ID, if you have not included it in the body of your email.