Professional Emails

Email is the most common form of written communication, particularly in an academic environment. 

When communicating by email, it is very important to keep your reader in mind. This will help you determine the tone, content and etiquette of your message. Just consider for a moment how different email communication is between your friends versus your professors! 

If you are communicating via email to a potential supervisor about a position that interests you, the professional email is critical. Here are some tips to keep in mind. 



  1. Carefully consider the Subject Line and use a topic that is meaningful to your reader. Consider: Application for …. Position 
  2. Be concise. As a rule of thumb, keep your message to two or three short paragraphs and remember to include your main point in the opening sentence. Also, if you are attaching a cover letter and/or resume, mention this in the email so that the receiver knows to look for and open the files. Also, appropriately name the attachments so that the receiver knows what each document is just by looking at the name.  
  3. Be polite and watch your tone.  Aim to write in a manner that is respectful, friendly, and approachable. For example, greet the reader with an address that is similar to one you would use in the cover letter, such as, “Dear” or “Mr. / Mrs” and remember to say "please" and "thank you" and be sincere. 
  4. Be sure not to use ALL CAPITALS because it sounds like shouting, or all lower-case letters either.  
  5. Avoid: a) email abbreviations b) acronyms such as PLZ, LOL c) complex fonts d) colours e) emoticons (such as smiley faces). Keep your message clean and simple.  
  6. End your email with a closing statement that thanks the receiver for his or her time. Be courteous and include an accurate follow-up statement such as, "I will contact you with further information." 
  7. Consider creating a signature block (this will automatically add on to the bottom of your email) that has your contact information. In most cases, this means your name, academic program, phone number, and email address. Don’t clutter the signature block with quotations/ artwork.    
  8. Be sure to edit and proofread your email before sending. Spelling and grammatical mistakes don’t convey professionalism. The smallest mistake can leave a negative impression.    
  9. If you get a reply, respond promptly. If you need to act on a request from the sender and it will take you longer than 24 hours to collect the information or make a decision, send a brief response explaining the delay.

Keep it Professional!

Ensure your email address is professional. For example, might be fun when communicating with your friends, but is not appropriate in a professional context. Remember to consider how your Facebook or LinkedIn account impacts your professionalism as well!