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Students: Learn the do’s and don’ts of writing a professional email

Writing a professional email can be difficult. Most of us are familiar with the process of staring at the keyboard, drafting a message, sending it to your parents or your friends to edit, and after hours of attempting to create the perfect email, you finally decide to hit send to your professor or potential employer. Rutgers IT has some tips and tricks to guide you in writing professional emails with ease.

How should I start a professional email?

  • Create a short and concise subject line.
    The subject line should be a short summary of the content of the email. Use important keywords. It should also grab the attention of the reader, so it stands out in their inbox.
  • Address the email recipient formally.
    Address the recipient with their formal title unless they tell you otherwise. For example, you would address Dr. Melissa Diaz by saying, “Good morning, Dr. Diaz,” instead of “Hey there Melissa.” Additionally, always check the contact information for one’s preferred pronouns.

What should I include in the body of a professional email?

  • Outline action items early in the message.
    Your email should call out any action items early in the correspondence, including any specific dates or deadlines, just in case people skim through it. Be sure to include a closing line such as, “I look forward to hearing your feedback,” and sign off with your full name, such as “Best, Jason Gillette.”
  • The use of bullet points can help organize information.
    Using bullet points helps organize information into digestible sections so the reader can follow along easily and pick out the important details.

What mistakes should you avoid?

  • Keep your language clear and simple.
    Try not to show off your vocabulary by using uncommon words, buzzwords, jargon, or clichés. Avoid overusing capitalization and exclamation points in your email as your reader may feel like you’re yelling.
  • Avoid sending professional emails from your phone.
    Writing professional emails from your phone may result in silly mistakes or awkward formatting, sometimes because you don’t have access to as many of the spell-checking and other writing tools available with a laptop or desktop computer.
  • Always proofread.
    Autocorrect isn’t perfect and often doesn’t comprehend the context of your messages. Before clicking send, definitely make sure that the recipient’s name is spelled correctly, even if spellcheck says otherwise.

Need more help writing professional emails? Take advantage of LinkedIn Learning for free with your Rutgers NetID and access video tutorials like the how to write a professional email course.

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