Aug 19 2020

How to Type an Email to your Professor: 10 Tips that Work

Adela Belin photo Adela Belin Content strategist and writer
Knowledge Cell

What if you come across an article that is very relevant to what your professor is teaching in class, and you want to share it with them or you want to request your profession for a recommendation letter?

Situations like these will arise during your years in college.

It could be anything -- questions regarding essay topics, extra credit requests, queries about projects, or even just to build a professional relationship with your professor.

Next thing you realize, you don't know how to type an email to your professor or where to start.

Original: SourceIn this article, you will learn more about how to send a well-written email to your professor.

10 Tips to Consider While Typing an Email to Your Professor

Sending your professors poorly worded emails can make you appear unprofessional and as someone who lacks attention to detail. They may choose to decline your request or worse, not respond to your emails in the way you’d like them to.

Most students are clueless about drafting professional emails because they were never taught how to do it in the first place.

It’s important to brush up your email writing skills because it will be an integral part of your professional life down the line.

Let’s take a look at ten tips you should keep in mind while typing an email to your professor.

1. Be grammatically correct

It is very important to have a firm grasp of the English language when you compose an email to your professor.

The email needs to be spelled correctly with no grammatical mistakes, written in a formal tone of voice. If the email is riddled with grammatical errors, it will make you seem sloppy, lazy and unprofessional.

For example, you can’t be writing “Can u help with my paper, idk what 2 write abt”, you should phrase your sentence correctly without using short forms.

The correct way to write it is: “I’m writing to ask you about the topics that were discussed in your class. I am having some difficulties in understanding them, could you please assist me in the right direction?".

2. Use a professional email address

Always use your college email id to send emails to your professor. You have one for a reason.

Sending an email from your college account will also help your professor receive the email in his inbox and not land up in the spam folder.

If you do not have a college email id for some reason, be very conscious about your personal email address. Don't send emails to your professor using email addresses like “”. They will not know who you are, and will conveniently ignore the email.

Be professional, make an account with your first and last name in the email address for easy identification.

3. Address the concern in the subject line

The subject line of an email is the first clue a teacher gets about what is stated in your email, so make it a concise, clear and strong subject line.

It should address your main requirement and your grade/section, which will help the professors categorize their important emails and make a to-do list.

Let’s say you’ve been asked to write a movie review. So, a perfect sample of a clear subject line would be -- “ENG201/Section B: Query about movie review assignment”. Simple, and easy to understand, isn’t it?

Don't start your subject line with “Hey” or “Need Help!” and never send an email with a blank subject line. That is just plain unacceptable.

Always remember, the sooner your professors understand what you require out of them, the sooner they will be able to help you out.

4. Use an appropriate salutation

A salutation is very easy to overlook as it consists of only a few words, but these few words are extremely important as they form the first sentence of your email.

If you’ve messed up your salutation, the professors will not even look into the email any further. So, you’ve got to get this right.

Address your professor by their proper title and their last name, such as “Professor Smith” or “Prof. Smith”. If they have a Ph.D., refer to them as “Dr.”, but it's always safer to go with “Professor”.

Another very crucial element to remember is to know how to spell the name of your professor correctly. Don't write emails to them on a first-name basis, unless the professors want you to call them by their first name. The thumb rule still remains: use their last name while addressing them.

5. Niceties go a long way

It never hurts to express some acknowledgment or some niceties regarding how the person receiving this email is doing.

This holds all the more true during times like this when we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Write something along the lines of “I hope you are doing good, and keeping safe during these stressful times” or just go with a “Hope you had a nice weekend.”

It doesn’t take much of an effort but it shows that you are empathetic and that you see them as people who have a life outside of college.

6. Share some background information

It is difficult for your college professors to keep track of all their students, considering that they could be teaching students from different grades, sections, for different subjects, or even assignments.

So, jog their memory and introduce yourself. Help them know who you are by writing down your first and last name as well as the name and section of your class.

7. Write a well-structured email

Sequence your email properly. The content should have clarity, which is vital if you want your professors to respond to it positively. State your questions/suggestions clearly and get to the point. Don't offer innumerable excuses or make excessive demands.

If you need to talk to your professor face-to-face, book an appointment with them to clear your doubts, and never resort to using emojis, slangs or short forms. It's okay to use them to write to your friends, but it is highly unprofessional to use them to write to your professors.

8. Ask for advice, not answers

Don't expect your teachers to directly give you the answers to your questions. They are here to help you, to advise you, not to spoon-feed you.

Try to find a solution before you write to your professor. If you have a question about homework, reach out to your fellow classmates, or check the syllabus before you ask your professor.

This will make you look resourceful and show that you are taking initiative in figuring out how to solve the problem on your own, and coming to the professor for assistance as a last resort.

9. Polite restatement of your request

In the email, if you are asking your professor a question that you need an answer to, politely restate it by writing something along the lines of “It would be great if you could assist me at your convenience” or “I would really appreciate your help.”

State what you would require out of your professor clearly, be it filling a form, writing a recommendation letter, or anything else that will require them to take action on something.

10. Sign off with gratitude

A simple “Best Regards” will do the job of a proper sign-off followed by your first and last name, your course name/major and your graduation year.

Before writing your sign off, you should end your email with  “I hope to hear from you” or a “Looking forward to your reply” or even a “Thank you so much for your time and patience”.

Here’s a useful video by Bloomberg on the best way to sign off emails

Example of a Professional Email to Your Professor

Here’s an example of a simple, strong and cohesive email you can send to your professor:

Subject: American History (202) Senior Thesis: Query

Good afternoon Professor X,

I hope you are doing well and keeping safe.

My name is Adam Nichols and I am from your Wednesday-Friday (morning) American History class (AMHS 202).

I have a question regarding the Senior Project thesis that we are required to submit on the 21st of August.

Do you require us to use all the points and arguments from the reading materials that you have given to us in class, or could I incorporate some of my own research materials that I found on the internet, keeping in mind that it makes sense and is parallel to my thesis topic?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Adam Nichols
American History (AMHS 202)

Original: SourceConclusion: Type a Professional Email to Your Professor

Just like writing a stellar college essay, it’s important to put in the effort while typing emails to your professor that are professional and well-structured. Doing this leaves a positive impression and helps you strike a connection with your professors in the process.

So, the next time you’re wondering how to type an email to your professor, make sure you keep these 10 tactics in mind. It’s sure to get your professor to sit up and take notice of what you have to say.

last edit at Sep 20 2022