Professional Email Communication 101

By Conor O’Brien

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Even before COVID-19, communication in the professional and academic world has primarily traveled through the use of emails and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Writing a professional email will benefit both parties and demonstrate your ability to communicate when words don’t fall from your mouth but onto a page. 

The Benefits of Sending Professional Emails

Just because an email is a quick and easy way to send a message, this does not mean that one should become whimsical in the construction of the content. What must be recognized is that an email is often the very first impression you give to a hiring manager, professor, or customer. This means that the words you decide can affect the future of your relationship with the other party. Inquiring about an open position, asking for an extension on your assignment, or responding to a client can all be done through a single email. Showing that you care enough to send a well-thought-out message will place you in favor with the individual or business you are communicating with. 

How to Write a Professional Email

When it comes to writing a professional email, it is best to err on the side of being too professional than too relaxed. This is not to say that you shouldn’t insert some of your personality into the words, but it is also not a text message to your best friend. Let’s look at two different emails sent to a professor:


I was wondering if I could have an extension on the assignment that is due tonight? I tried to work on it all week but I had lots to do this week and I had other classes with assignments that I also needed to do.

Let me know,


Now, compare that to this second email:

Hello Professor,

I am asking for your approval of an extension on assignment #5 that is due this evening. I was overwhelmed by assignments this week and have not yet finished the assignment for this class. I understand and accept the consequences for a late assignment. However, if an extension is possible, I will have the assignment turned in by (Date). 

Thank you for your consideration,


Notice how the second email addresses the professor in a professional manner and suggests that the student understands the consequences of a late assignment. The student also specifies when they plan to submit their assignment, indicating that they intend to work on it in a timely manner. In the first email, it seems as though the student forgot about the assignment and thinks they will get the extension anyways, while the second student demonstrates a willingness to learn from the failed submission. These two emails, though they contain the same information, could have completely different outcomes. 

Writing a professional email is a simple task that fails to come to mind for many people. This is why this is a relatively simple way to get a leg up over competition and show that you truly care about the response you will get. Just take your time, and give yourself the best shot at the response you want to receive. 

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

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