In college, you’ll have to send professional emails. Whether it means emailing a resume to a potential employer or a clarifying question to a professor, it’s important to know how to format your message, what to do, and what not to do.
Here are some types of individuals you may send professional emails to:
- Potential employers
- Teaching assistants
- Academic advisors
- Office of Disability Services contact
- Project group members
A professional email is made up of 5 components.
- Subject Line: Your subject line should be a few words that summarizes what your message is about. It can be very basicsimple, since you’ll explain all of the specifics in the body of your email. The purpose of the subject line is to give the reader an idea of what the email is about before they open it.
For example, your subject line could read –
- Greeting: Your greeting line should start with “Hi” or “Dear” and then the person’s title and name. A title would be Dr., Mr., Mrs., Professor, etc. Hi Dr./Mr./Ms./Professor/etc. After their title, you should include their last name.
For example, your greeting might look like this –
Hi Professor Eudy,
- Body: Here, you’ll want to ask any questions you may have, answer questions they may have had in a previous email, or communicate anything else you need to. If you have a lot to say, you can break the body of your email up into multiple paragraphs.
The body of your email might look like this –
I hope you are well. I have a question about the due date of major paper III for your English Composition II class at 11:15 on T/TH. The printed syllabus lists the due date as Friday, January 19, but the syllabus on the class website lists the due date as Wednesday, January 17. I wanted to clarify which date is correct.
- Closing: On this line, if this person is helping you, you’ll want to write “Thanks so much,” or something similar. Finally, leave another space and close with “Best,” or “Sincerely”.
A typical closing can look like this –
Thanks so much.
- Signature: Your signature should include your first and last name. If you’re sending a professional email on behalf of an organization, you will want to include your position within the organization, and contact information, such as your email and phone number.
A signature can be as simple as this –
Or may look like this –
Organization for Autism Research | Intern
Here is an example email that brings together all of the components we talked about:
Things to keep in mind
The shorter, the better. Try and keep your message short, clear, and to-the-point. If you email a professor or advisor with a complicated question, they may ask you to come in and meet with them so they can properly answer your question, and that’s okay!
Proofread your message before you send it. You can even have a friend read through an email for you before you send it. A few spelling or grammar errors can make you seem unprofessional.
Keep it simple. In a professional email, it’s a good idea to use a simple font, like Calibri or Times New Roman, in 11 or 12 sized font in the color black. Avoid using fancier fonts and colors, and use tools like italics and bold sparingly.
Be patient. Unlike texting, where you typically get a reply within a few minutes to 24 hours, an email reply could take as long as a few days. If a week passes and you still haven’t gotten a response, it would then be appropriate to send a follow-up email, asking the individual if they saw your original message.