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Professional Emails 101

I didn't realize professional emails was a skill (i.e. teachable) until a freshman friend of mine asked me how she was suppose to email her professor about needing a grade back before drop date. I had forgot that someone had to show me how to be an email wizard, it didn't just come naturally.

Now I send professional emails all the time for school, work and even my blog. Email communication is soooo important, even as many work places start to use task management platforms to communicate. Email is still an important way to communicate with potential employers, customers, professors and more. Let's get in it.

Professional Email Format

Let's start with a general over view of what a professional email should included. Whether you're contacting a professor, or potential employer or a blogger for a collaboration, it's important to include these things.

Subject Line

Always be sure to make your subject as clear as possible. This is how people choose what emails to read, and you want to make sure your's gets read. If you're emailing about a specific assignment or task say something along the lines of "Assignment 4 Due Date" or "Question about Quiz 4 grade".


In the greeting be sure to include Dr. if the person you're emailing has earned that title. Otherwise use Mr. or Ms. and the person's last name. We'll talk about work-place emails later on, but for professors or people you don't talk with often use the above greeting.


In your ending you can switch it up but always be sure to include your name at the end. If you're emailing an adviser or professor, include any info they might need to respond to your email like a student ID number or class section number. 

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Other good-bye phrases you could use include, "best wishes," "Thanks," "Kind regards," "Talk Soon," and others. I like to end all of mine with "Best," but choose what feels right for you.

Getting what you want from People

Emails are suppose to be S H O R T, so put exactly what you need in the very first sentence. It may feel weird at first, but being direct doesn't mean you're being rude about asking for things. Here are a few examples.
After you ask for exactly what you want, then go into your reasoning or any background information. I've gotten tons of emails from people at work where they BURY the ask in a ton of background information and it's so much harder to figure out what they need.

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Often I'll write an email as I normally would then find the ask and move it to the first sentence after I get my thoughts out. Being as clear as possible is the best way to get what you need/want from people.

Emailing at Work

This may or may not apply to you, but when you move into the professional world emailing etiquette changes slightly. At my office job, I have to email the same people pretty frequently, so I get to be slightly less formal.


When emailing people you work with, feel free to use first names in the greeting if you call them by their first name in person. Using last name in email and first name in person just feels weirdly formal. You could also forego the greeting all together, especially in the responses from the initial email.

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At work I often have to email a group of people or CC them on. This stands for Carbon Copy meaning everyone is getting the email, and everyone can see who else got it. There's also BCC, or Blind Carbon Copy, where everyone gets the email, but they can't see who else got it. In these situations I often greet with a "Hey Team," or group salutation.

Email Signature

Email signatures appear at the bottom of EVERY email you send and often include your full name, department, position, office number and a link to the company website. Some offices will require you have a uniform one, but even if they don't I suggest copying one from a coworker that most people use.

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The most important info in your work email signature is your department and position so everyone knows why you're emailing them if you aren't as familiar with them IRL

Master the art of the Professional Clap Back

I don't care how mad you get, do not send a heated, angry email to anyone ever. There is a very particular way to handle conflict in a work place environment, and a five paragraph email about a person's mistake is not the way to go.

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You'll get nothing out of sending an email of angry all caps except for a reputation for being a dick. It's better to be calm and collected and send a strongly worded email explaining why you're upset.

I like to call this a professional clap back, and it truly is an art form. Regardless of the situation, always be sure to read and read these emails very carefully, perhaps even out loud and have a coworker read it.

I really suggest reading this Refinery 29 article about some good phrases to use in these types of emails. My favorite phrase to use in these emails is "As we discussed on [date]" and "Moving forward..."

These sorts of emails should always include a lot of "we" to avoid putting the blame on one particular person. For example "We aim to have articles in my the noon deadline." This makes you sound like a team player.


Communication well in Emails is an important skill for any young professional and it's something we often have to learn on our own. Emails are used in almost every work place and sounding like a dick can spell trouble not only for your reputation, but also for your career. What are some of y'alls professional clap back phrases or other tips for email etiquette? Comment below!

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  1. Your format is exactly how I wrote my emails in school! It's such an important skill to master!

    Madison // Mads Maybe