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Send It Professionally: Tips for Writing a Professional Email

Unsure how to ask your professor for clarification on an assignment? Need to email your boss for time-off? Sending a professional email can be challenging.

Tips for Writing a Professional EmailAs the sender, you want to ensure that your recipient is receiving the message as it was intended it to be received. I’m sure we have all heard stories about individuals sending an email that they later regretted. Here are some tips on writing a professional email.

Tip 1: Start with a greeting. The individual you are corresponding with will appreciate that you are polite. If the person you are emailing is an authoritative figure, it is best to keep your greeting formal, such as spelling out hello instead of sending Hi or Hey. (Example: Hello Dr. Smith, )

Tip 2: Use the recipients preferred title and last name. If you are addressing your instructor who has a Ph.D., it is a good idea to address them as Dr., unless they specifically ask you not to. If you are unsure if your instructor has a Ph.D. or not, check your syllabus or the university directory. Other common titles used are Professor, Ms., and Mr.

Tip 3: Be concise. This will help to prevent a communication breakdown. They will also appreciate that you are not taking up more time than is necessary.

Tip 4: Proof-read. Look for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

Tip 5: Do not use slang/informal language. Avoid using abbreviations or acronyms unless they are common in your field of study/work.

Tip 6: Thank your recipient for their help and time spent on the issue in advance. This will help you be seen as polite and respectful to your recipient.

Tip 7: Make sure to include a closing remark to your email and sign-off. There are a wide variety of closing remarks that can be used. Some examples are: sincerely and best regards. Sign off with your first and last name.

Tip 8: If you are emailing an instructor, make sure to include the course number/title and date and time of meeting. This should be included in the subject line. You can also list this information in your main message if you would like, but it is not necessary to list it twice. (Example: Subject: Question on Assignment: ECON 201 M,W,F 10am-11am)

Tip 9: Capitalize the subject line the same way you would for a title of a paper. 

Tip 10: Add the recipients email address last. This will prevent you from accidently sending an email that is not fully composed or that has not been proof-read.


By: Erica Martin, NDSU Extension Intern, Human Development and Family Science

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