Business, Communication, Email Writing

How to Write a Formal Thank-You Email

Henry is a law school student who just landed a summer internship at a prestigious international law firm. One of his professors had suggested that Henry apply for this internship. She also wrote a glowing letter of recommendation on Henry’s behalf. Now Henry would like to show his gratitude by sending a thank-you email to this professor.

Formal or informal?

If you are in a situation like Henry’s, you definitely want to write a formal thank-you email rather than a casual email. Formal emails are appropriate when you are writing to someone who is in a superior position, such as a professor, a boss, or a hiring manager. They are also appropriate if you are writing to someone you don’t know well, such as a contact you made at a networking event.

The subject header

Your subject header should be simple and straightforward. “Thank you for your help” is fine. You could also include something more specific. For example, Henry could write “Thank you for the recommendation”.

What type of salutation should you use?

Since this is a formal email, you will want to start with “Dear” followed by the person’s name. Click here for a more detailed look at how to greet someone in an email.

The body of the text

Here is where you will show your appreciation for what the email recipient has done for you. You want the tone of your message to be polite and professional. You should also be specific. “Thank you for all your help” is nice, but it is better to include some details. How exactly did this person help you? Did they write you a letter of recommendation? Did they assist you with a challenging job task? Did this person spend extra time with you during an interview or meeting?

In a previous blog article, we explored the many ways to say thank you in English. You may find some helpful example sentences or phrases there.

The closing

To close the email, write “Sincerely” or “Best Regards” followed by a comma. Then go to the next line and write your name. If the recipient does not have your full contact information, you should include that as well.

Let’s look at an example…

Here is Henry’s thank-you email to his law school professor:

Subject: Thank you for the recommendation

Dear Professor Jackson,

I am writing to express my appreciation for your suggestion that I apply for the internship at the Somers and Winters Law Firm. I am even more grateful that you took the time to write such a detailed letter of recommendation. This helped me stand out from the other candidates. I am so excited about this internship, as I am planning to have a career in international arbitration. I learned so much from taking your course, and now I will have the opportunity to apply what I have learned in a challenging new environment. Thank you so much for everything you have done for me.


Henry Kwan

If you have written a formal thank-you email and would like one of our TextRanch editors to give you some feedback, please click the link below.

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