Email is the #1 form of communication in the workplace. That’s why it is so important to be able to write professional emails. Here are a few general tips you can follow to ensure that your emails to professors and employers are polished and professional.


Communication Channel: Before you send an email, it is important to determine if email is the most appropriate communication channel for delivering the message. Information and good news can be relayed through email, while bad news should be relayed in person.
Message & Receiver: Think about the message and the receiver – the message should be short (2-3 paragraphs) and straight-forward. The receiver should easily be able to understand the email.
Confidentiality: Never assume that emails are confidential. They can easily be printed out and left on a desk or printer where everyone can see. Emails can also easily be forwarded to others.
Email Addresses: Make sure that your email addresses are professional. Use your school email to apply for jobs and for all professional communication. Also, keep personal and school/work emails completely separate.
Subject Line: Always include a subject line that clearly indicates the purpose of your email. It should be concise, include key words, and stand out. You want the recipient to know why you are emailing them before they even open your message.
Greeting: It is customary to write “Dear” followed by the official title of the person to whom you are addressing. It is acceptable to use “Hi” or “Hello.” If you do not know the name of the person whom you are emailing, use “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom it may concern.”
Emailing Multiple People: If you’re emailing one to three people, include each person’s name in the greeting. If you’re emailing four or more people, us a general, all-encompassing greeting such as “Hello Team.”
Using CC and BCC: CC stands for “Carbon Copy” and should be sent to secondary recipients to inform them and keep them in the loop. BCC stands for “Blind Carbon Copy” and should be sent to those who need to know the information but do not need to have their email addresses seen by the recipients.
Include Important Info First: If you’re emailing the recipient to thank them, include the thank you first. If you’re asking them for help with something, make this request first. Simply explain that you are emailing them to ask for their assistance.
Length: Try to keep your email as short as possible. Break it into separate paragraphs, adding white space to make the email easy to read. If your email is more than 2-3 paragraphs, attach a document to the email.
Font Style: Use simple fonts that are easy to read. Avoid using bold print and italics. Also, never use all caps – the recipient may mistakenly think that you are angry or overly emphasizing the information.
Emoticons: Emoticons should not be present in a professional email because they lower your credibility. Also, don’t include many exclamation points. If you do include exclamation points, use as few as possible.
Spelling and Grammar: Double-check your email to make sure that your words are spelled correctly and there are no grammar mistakes. Also, ensure that your message is complete before sending it. It is always a good habit to proofread an email before sending it.
Closing: End with a “Thank you,” “Kind Regards,” “Best” or other professional ending.
Signature: Make sure that you include a signature with your contact information so that you can easily be reached. Your signature should include your name (in bolded font), current occupation, place of work, email, and phone number (if applicable).
Check Your Email Regularly: You don’t want to miss a response from a professor or potential employer. Check your email at least once a day.
Using these tips, you can write professional emails to professors, employers, and professionals. If you’re having trouble writing an email, schedule an appointment with a Career Center staff member. They will help you develop a polished and professional email. Come see us soon!