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Tips for Writing Professional Emails

Email is the most common form of written communication in university settings and the business world alike. Please remember to use proper English grammar and follow our ten tips for writing professional emails.

  1. Use a professional greeting and salutation to address the person to whom you are writing the email. Writing just ‘Hello’ or just the person’s last name is not acceptable. Even worse is not using any greeting and salutation at all. You most likely would not like to receive such email, please treat others as you would like to be treated.
  2. Always fill in the subject line with a topic that means something to your reader. For example: “Important” is not a good subject line but “Registration Question” is.
  3. If you are attaching a file, make sure the filename is informative and includes your name. It is not helpful if a faculty member receives 100 files called ‘homework #4’.
  4. Include your UB person number in all email communications with UB staff as it is your unique identifier in all databases. When asking for force registration, credit evaluation, advisement, etc., you can avoid additional emails in which we have to ask you for your person number.
  5. Don’t use all CAPITALS (no shouting!) or all lower-case letters either (unless you’re e. e. cummings).
  6. Please avoid textspeak and abbreviations.
  7. Be brief and polite. Remember to say “please” and “thank you”.
  8. Add a signature block with appropriate contact information. For school purposes this could include your name and person number. If you wish, you can include your phone number.
  9. Edit and proofread before hitting “send”.
  10. Take initiative, be a problem solver and your own advocate. When communicating with staff and faculty, please avoid asking trivial questions such as “where is your office?” when this information is easily within your reach. Course meeting times and locations, course pre-requisites, spring/summer/fall schedule information and registration numbers can be found in HUB or on our website. It likely takes as much time for you to look up the information you need as it takes to send an email and ask someone else to do it for you.

We hope these 10 quick points will help you write effective and professional emails.

One last point that does not have to do with email communication but rather with turning in forms:

Please fill out official forms in pen and sign your name in pen. Blue pen is always preferred to show that the document you are submitting is original. Pencil signatures are not acceptable.

Submitted by Éva McGovern, Undergraduate Academic Coordinator, Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering