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All first year and transfer students at UNC-Chapel Hill are required to take ENGL 105: Composition and Rhetoric which, in part, guides students in researching and composing written work in an academic environment. This can also be useful in composing well thought out, concise, and articulate e-mails directed toward UNC faculty and staff.

The best way to approach email composition is to treat it just like any other writing assignment – a thoughtful, well written email will help you make a strong first impression:


  • Clearly and specifically indicate the purpose of your email
  • Do not simply write “hi” or “hey” in your subject line


  • Address the recipient with their proper name, “Dear Dr….
  • Do not use Mr/Miss/Ms, as this makes assumptions about the recipient’s identity.
  • Do not address “To whom it may concern,” as the email should be specific to the recipient.


  • Briefly introduce yourself
  • State purpose/intent of your email


  • Provide detail for purpose of your email
  • If your email is regarding research interests –
    • Why are you looking for a research position?
    • Why are you contacting this research in particular?


  • Thank the recipient for their time and attention; express willingness to meet in person to discuss further (allow 3-4 days for recipient to respond)
  • Sign e-mail professionally; some options-
    • “Sincerely,”
    • “Warm regards,”
    • “Thank you,”