Getting what you want from emails


by Emily Allbon.

This animated video on email etiquette shows how you can make dull advice a little more engaging, with just limited artistic and technical know-how.

The distinction between formality and informality has been eroded in recent years – not a bad thing by any means (I can wear trainers to work, hurrah!), but it can result in a lack of awareness from students about their means and methods of communication.


As a lecturer I’m sure I’m not unusual in receiving a lot of emails each day – sometimes around 100. Many of these are from students, and they range in their style, approach and length. Variety is the spice as they say, but it can often feel like just responding to emails is a full-time job, and if students (and colleagues) were to keep in mind a few guidance points, everyone would be happier!

There are lots of hints and tips online from universities (Tufts University, University of Technology Sydney, and this great piece on but I thought I’d have a go at doing a whiteboard animation to make it a little less wordy.


I used the Sparkol Videoscribe package, which I’ve used a few times before (see my Law Student A-Z and The Legal Research Masterclass, which I did with a colleague, Andrew Worthley). My daughter Maisy used it do a class project a few years ago too (with a bit of help, she was 8) – see What makes Britain great?

Videoscribe is quite an easy product to get to grips with – it comes with a good free range of images you can use in your video and then other ‘premium’ illustrations which you need to pay for. So you don’t have to draw anything yourself!

It keeps the viewer interested by ‘drawing’ those images on screen (you have a choice of hands to select). Or you can use other transitional tools like morph or move. You can add soundtracks and narration too. There are lots of font options to play around with.

The animation art I drew on my iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil.

Emily Allbon, creator

For this resource I thought it might be a bit of a cop-out for me to solely use the ones provided in Videoscribe so I’ve mixed in a few I created myself. I drew these using the Concepts App on my iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. They were done quite quickly and in a range of styles – artistically it would look better with more consistency – but I thought it would hopefully demonstrate what was possible!

One thing to bear in mind is that if you want Videoscribe to ‘draw’ the images as part of the animation, you have to upload them in SVG, a vector image format. This is easily done in Concepts and Adobe Illustrator.


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