Eszter Hargittai has written a “Primer for Electronic Communication” for Inside Higher Ed. Make sure you read the whole article, but eszter’s proposed template for such a message is:

  • Descriptive subject line
  • Polite point-of-contact
  • Succinct statement of the message’s purpose
  • Brief introduction of yourself
  • Acknowledging other attempts at finding an answer or solution
  • Restatement of question
  • Gratitude for assistance

While I think this would be a great read for students, who often manage to appear discourteous when asking for help by e-mail (including those who I know are polite and appreciative in person), it also captures the approach I take when contacting colleagues and superiors with requests.

More discussion of the piece can be found at Crooked Timber.