Guidelines for Digital Communication

How you communicate with others digitally — such as through email or on a course's online discussion board — related to your college coursework or activities can be different from how you interact with others in-person or in a casual setting. These guidelines for how you should interact with faculty, staff, and your fellow students on digital platforms are are known as "netiquette."

Basic Netiquette

When communicating in email or in any other digital communication, always:

  • Treat instructors, staff, and other students with respect.
  • Address instructors’ and staff members' by their titles, such as Dr. or Professor. When in doubt, use Mr. or Ms. Unless specifically invited, don’t refer to instructors by their first name.
  • Use clear and concise language.
  • Keep all communications professional. Remember that all college-level communication should have correct spelling and grammar. Avoid slang terms such as “wassup?” and texting abbreviations such as “u” instead of “you” — do not write an email to a college instructor or staff member the way you would send a casual text.
  • Use standard fonts such as Times New Roman. Use a size 12 or 14 pt. font.
  • Avoid writing in all caps. This can be interpreted as yelling.
  • Limit or avoid the use of emoticons such as smilies.
  • Be cautious when using humor or sarcasm. Tone is sometimes lost in an email or discussion post — your message might be taken seriously or as offensive.
  • Be careful with personal information (both yours and others'). Never send confidential patient information via email.

Be careful about the messages you send or post — remember that once information has been transmitted digitally, it can be easily passed on to others for whom the message was not intended and difficult to fully delete, even if you think the message is private or removed.

Email Netiquette

When you send an email to your instructor, teaching assistant, classmates, or Central Piedmont staff:

  • When emailing about college-related matters, use your Central Piedmont student email.
  • Give your message a subject that clearly describes what your email is about. For example, "Tutoring Hours at Cato Campus"
  • Start the message with a polite address, such as "Dear" or "Hello," followed by the person's title (if applicable), name, and a comma. For example: "Hello Dr. Smith,"
  • Keep your message brief and concise.
  • Avoid attachments, unless you are sure your recipients can open them.
  • Avoid HTML in favor of plain text.
  • Sign your message with your first and last name and your return email address.
  • Think before you send the email to more than one person. Does everyone really need to see your message?
  • Be sure you really want everyone to receive your response before you “reply all.”
  • Be sure that the original message's author intended for the information to be passed along before you “forward” a message.

Message Board Netiquette and Guidelines

When taking an online course, it is important to recognize that the online classroom is in fact a classroom, and certain behaviors are expected when you communicate with both your peers and your instructors. When posting on any course's online discussion board:

  • Make posts that are on-topic and within the scope of the course material.
  • Take your posts seriously. Review and edit your posts before submitting them.
  • Be as brief as possible while still making a thorough comment.
  • Always give proper credit when referencing or quoting another source.
  • Be sure to read all messages in a thread before replying.
  • Don’t repeat someone else’s post without adding something of your own to it.
  • Avoid short, generic replies such as “I agree.” You should include why you agree or add to the previous point.
  • Always be respectful of others’ opinions, even if they differ from your own. When you disagree with someone, you should express your differing opinion in a respectful, non-critical way.
  • Do not make personal or insulting remarks.
  • Be open-minded.