People use TL DR when talking

PD Dr. Roland Schäfer

This page is based on a similar one by Stefan Müller.


The most important first: Please don't speak to me professor at. I am not one (see this page with information on the various status of lecturers) and I would not care about the salutation if I were one. Also, I don't necessarily have to keep hearing that I have a doctorate. Everything between"Dear Mr. Schäfer, ... With best regards ..." and "Dear Mr. Schäfer, ... Best regards ..." is OK. You are free to choose within this spectrum. But that's my personal preference. Here are some rules for the case that a lecturer does not position himself so clearly.

General recommendations (also very important!)

I try to answer your emails as quickly as possible, usually within minutes. However, there is a practical problem: Especially during the semester, I get a lot of emails in phases and depending on the specific courses I offer. With two large seminars and one mass lecture, up to thirty emails per day are possible at the beginning and end of the semester. You can make my life a lot easier and reduce the response time considerably by taking the following points into account:

  1. All questions about certificates of achievement, certificates of attendance, etc. (traditional Bills) please address to the secretariat. Please respect the office hours of the secretariat and take into account in tone and behavior that secretaries are also very busy.
  2. The same applies to entries in the online system.
  3. Danger: Tutors are not alternative secretaries or lecturers! So please do not burden tutors with questions that do not directly concern the organization and content of the tutorial.
  4. Please (!) Be brief!Provide all important information, but not your life story. Please do not send me any certificates. If you are sick, I believe you will too, and you may only miss three times in courses with attendance checks, regardless of the reason.
  5. Always give one Subject line (Subject).
  6. Enter in the subject line, which event it is about or name a keyword like BA thesis etc.
  7. If you have any questions about courses, certificates, exams, study regulations, etc., please provide all relevant information in the email. For example: Course number, matriculation number, semester, examination date (e.g. from the first attempt). By the way, your email signature for study-related emails should contain your matriculation number, etc.
  8. If you have to change mail for a long time, use in the mail program Reply or. reply and leave the entire previous email exchange attached as a quote. Of course, I still have your old emails, but finding them takes unnecessarily long and can significantly delay the response time.
  9. Configure your mail program so that it is yours full name (First name and surname) in addition to the email address. Your mail program should first name Last Name show.
  10. Please consider whether you really want to send emails from private addresses based on nicknames or private jokes (like [email protected]). In any case, with such an email address, the additional transmission of the real name is even more important.
  11. Spam filters punish mails without a sender name.
  12. If possible, use yours University account for sending emails. The probability of delivery errors or spam filter problems occurring is then low.
  13. If you have a part-time job, please do not send from the associated email account and do not use your employer's signature. This only increases the likelihood that a human or automatic filter will classify the emails incorrectly. In addition, it is none of the business of lecturers, and nobody really cares what kind of job you have, no matter how great you find it yourself. The reverse is also true. It is absolutely unprofessional to mix up the spheres of your life like this.
  14. Set up your university account so that your email address has the format firstname.lastname @ Has. You can set up an alias for this.
  15. There are some questions you don't need to ask. Always check whether the information in question is already on my website, in the Blackboard / Moodle, etc.

Thank you very much for complying with these recommendations as closely as possible and I return the favor with a very quick response time! If it really takes longer, it is usually because I have to do some research myself (e.g. for specific questions about study regulations) or that you have asked content-related questions and I have to find the time for a longer answer (usually overnight).

Forms of address

Basics and details

  1. Research the exact title of the person contacted! Both the recognition and the denial of titles in the salutation are problematic. Specific details follow below Concrete forms of address.
  2. MA and Dr. are academic titles. They are part of the person's name and can only be omitted again if the university that awarded the title withdraws it. This only happens if it can be proven that the title was acquired illegally (e.g. in cases of plagiarism).
  3. professor is a service title, not an academic title. You can tell by the fact that there is no professor exam or anything like that. Different from the titleMA and Dr. you can lose this designation at any time if you take on another job (even if that rarely happens).
  4. Honorary professor is an honorary title. In the salutation is always only professor etc. used.
  5. Privatdozent * inor PD or Priv.-Doz. are neither academic titles nor service titles. They only mark that the person has completed his habilitation (i.e. has acquired a Venia Legendi) but does not have a regular professorship. Accordingly has PD etc. lost as much in a salutation as an age statement (Dear Doctor. Shepherd of 35 years, ...) or other information about the person's résumé (Dear Doctor. with Abitur Schäfer, ...). It will only be the highest academic title (almost always Dr.) is used.
  6. Further information on the status of staff at German universities can be found on this page.

Concrete forms of address

  1. Sieze all lecturers (no matter how young), unless something else was expressly agreed. Tutors are not lecturers but, like you, students. Duzen is appropriate here.
  2. The salutation professor overwrites the salutationdoctor. So it's always calledDear Professor NAME or Dear Professor NAME, so always without doctor and other additional titles. professor is never abbreviated in the salutation (i.e. never Prof.). Professor is traditionally unusual (instead female professor), but it happens more and more often. If necessary, look on the person's homepage to see how they describe themselves.
  3. It is similar for doctorates, but the title may be abbreviatedDear Doctor. SURNAME or Dear Dr. SURNAME.
  4. If you are writing to a person in a special official position (e.g. dean * in the faculty), you should address the person according to their function. So it says, for example: Dear Dean Professor Müller. If you are writing to the same person in their function as professor in the subject, the address as dean is of course omitted.
  5. Bachelor (BA) and master (MA) as well as the older one (following the family name without a comma!) Master of Arts (M.A.) are never used in the salutation. Doing it anyway would usually come across as a mockery. In the past I only heard something like this from older professors (sic!) Who wanted to argue about the difference in status between themselves and me: “Oh ho, here comes Herr Magister Schäfer!”
  6. Regardless of title or title, never withhold the person's name. Dear Professor (without a name) etc. is impossible.
  7. Values ​​/ r or Dearest feel free to use again when the 19th century comes back.
  8. Very valued Dr. shepherd (read like this in a student email) borders on an insult de iure. I ignored that at the time, but not everyone would - maybe I wouldn't either. Do not play with such supposed jokes! That can backfire.
  9. The salutation ends with a comma and never with an exclamation mark. The exclamation mark is alarming and intrusive.
  10. Sincerely is completely out of date. In certain commercial and legal contexts, the particular formality of this phrase is even used to indicate the impending escalation of a simmering conflict. Please never use this anywhere.
  11. Nowadays the only closing formula is actually With best regards orBest regards or Best wishes (each followed by your full name, not just your first name) in question. These options differ, of course, in the degree of formality, and no one can generally tell you which degree is appropriate. When in doubt, I would always With best regards to grab. Other formulas may be excessive, disrespectful, or exaggerated.
  12. Abbreviations like Kind regards are impossible in my opinion. You will probably have enough time for three words when it comes to your exam, term paper, etc.