Universität Bonn


A Brief Guide on Proper Email Etiquette

Emails are the preferred means of communication between students and lecturers, outside face-to-face interaction in class or during office-hours. Emails are usually short and to the point, but they often contain poor grammar and style, which students can avoid by adhering to some basic guidelines.

The Basics

Use your university email address, e.g. s5muster@uni-bonn.de and always include your student-ID/Matrikelnummer.

Always specify the subject of the email (German: Betreff). Some spam filters will not allow emails through which do not have a subject line.

Clearly state your question, concern, or issue in the first sentence.

Be conscise, polite, and avoid colloquialisms.

If you are sending an attachment, give it an explanatory name, e.g. “Shakespeare_Mueller_essay.doc,” but not “mein_referat_final_2.doc.”

And do not forget to proof-read your emails before you send them!

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Forms of Address

Greet the recipient with “Dear” and then use “Mr,” “Ms,” "Mx," “Dr” or “Prof” and the persons last name
  o   e.g.: Dear Prof. Schmitz

Do not write “Hallo X” (as you might in German). The English equivalent might be “Hi”, but that is very colloquial and would be normal among students but not appropriate between students and their lecturers. You must be on first name terms to say “Hi” to someone.

Do not use the first name of a lecturer unless they have offered this to you first.

To sign off, use “Best regards” or “Best wishes.” Use your own first name and surname, except if you know your lecturer well then you may use your first name e.g.: Max Mustermann

Useful Vocabulary and Phrases

Outline (German = Struktur)

References/bibliography (German = bibliographische Angaben)

Mark (British) // Grade (American) (German = Note)

In German, 'mail' is a loanword that is used, interchangably with 'email,' to refer to electronic communication. In English, however, the word 'mail' refers to the postal service, i.e. physical mail. Therefore, please use the word 'email' when referring to electronic mail in English.

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