Tips for communicating online

When communicating with other students and your tutors online, always be courteous and consider what you say.

When you talk to someone face-to-face, there are visual cues that influence the conversation. Your tone of voice and the body language you use are as important as what you say. When communicating with someone online (e.g. in emails, social media or discussion boards), these cues are missing so it’s more important to consider what you write before you hit Send.


Do keep your messages short, concise and understandable. This means:

  • Leaving out irrelevant details.
  • Limiting exclamation marks and question marks. Use just one at a time.
  • Avoiding jargon, slang, texting abbreviations and emojis.
  • Using correct spelling and grammar.

Do be polite and considerate. This includes:

  • Starting you emails with “Dear (name)” or “Hi (name)” – don’t launch straight into the message unless you’ve already established a back-and-forth conversation. On discussion boards or social media, it’s not necessary to start with “Hi (name)” unless you’re addressing a particular person.
  • Replying to emails promptly. Or if it’s going to take a while for you to write a considered response, perhaps send a quick email to let the sender know when to expect a full reply.
  • Sending your email to the smallest audience possible. Avoid copying your email to large groups of people unless the message is relevant to every recipient.

Do add value to online conversations and discussions. This includes:

  • Adding your own thoughts to the conversation instead of just repeating what everyone else is saying.
  • Staying on topic. If you need to introduce a new topic consider starting a new conversation.
  • Making it clear if you are stating an opinion or a fact, so you are not misleading.

Do remember that all laws governing copyright, defamation, discrimination and other forms of written communication also apply to email, discussion boards and social media.


Don’t use all capital letters in words – it comes across as shouting.

Don’t respond to posts or emails when you’re upset or angry. Give yourself time to cool off before responding.

Don’t write anything you wouldn’t say in public. Discussion boards and social media posts are viewable by many, and emails are easily forwarded to others.

Don’t write anything that could come across as abusive or discriminatory.