I need to send a letter/email to 4 professors. What is the correct salutation?

  1. Professors Smith, Johnson, Lee & Chun
  2. Professor Smith, Professor Johnson, Professor Lee & Professor Chun
  3. something else?

Thank you!

  • I agree with Benjamin Wong it's a good idea to consider whether addressing all four profs in the To: field of single email is best. Is this an email where they'll each respond and need/want to see everyone else's replies? These strings can get cumbersome quickly. Also if it's something you're trying to coordinate among them (scheduling a meeting or the like) sometimes a one-on-one email is best to start with, then (hopefully) a single group email to confirm. Besides, even professors like to feel like they're special enough to get individual attention once in a while ;-) – cpit Apr 14 at 1:11
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    I'm tempted to say "Professors Smith, Johnson, et al." as a joke about academic referencing, but it's not actually how they'd be addressed in an email directed to them. – nick012000 Apr 14 at 6:00
  • What's your relationship with the professors? Are you a student, a colleague...? – Christopher Apr 14 at 16:15
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    This is purely a style matter; I'd suggest it be migrated to InterpersonalSkills. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 20 at 18:14
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    In an email, you shouldn't use a salutation. The "to" field of the email already does this, and no email lacks a "to" field since it can't be sent as the "to" field is where the email address used in sending it is. An email is just like a memo, which also has a "to" field and so also precludes using any additional salutation in the body of the memo. – Benjamin Harman Apr 20 at 18:18

I would use the salutation

Dear Prof. Smith, Prof. Johnson, Prof. Lee, and Prof. Chun,

(note the “and”).

Other salutations might work, but this version gives adequate respect to each addressee, without being inordinately lengthy.

Also, is the email directly relevant to all four professors? Perhaps you should consider “CC’ing” someone that’s not so relevant (in which case the CC’d person need not be addressed in the salutation)?

It’s my first answer here so any feedback is appreciated.

  • 6
    Wow. I am certain I didn’t type that. Is this some sort of StackExchange algorithm that deletes salutations? I know some algorithms delete greetings such as “Hi”, or “Thank you”. Obviously I meant to start with “Dear Prof.” EDIT: It is not letting me edit! I am raising this on Meta. – Benjamin Wang Apr 13 at 20:16
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    Meta post is here – Benjamin Wang Apr 13 at 20:39
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    Any reference for it being the "correct" salutation? For four men, you can say "Dear Messrs. Smith, Doe, Jackson, and Wayne," which is a correct salutation. Why wouldn't "Professors Smith, Doe, .." be correct? – BruceWayne Apr 14 at 19:26
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    @BruceWayne ahhh, now everyone should see how insidious this bug is. (See the meta post in my earlier comment) I never intended to claim it is "the correct" way -- it is more like "I would use this salutation, based on my experience". The edit was put in place to circumvent a bug on this site. – Benjamin Wang Apr 14 at 22:17
  • It is puzzling how not 'being inordinately lengthy' could possibly count in favour of this form, when the alternative is bound to be shorter. Also the claim that 'this version gives adequate respect to each addressee' suggests that the alternative would be less respectful, and there is no reason why that would be the case (as @BruceWayne has pointed out, Messrs is a well established salutation). Finally, the answer confuses the issue by using the abbreviation Prof. - whether Professor or Prof. is preferable is independent of the question the OP is raising. – jsw29 Apr 20 at 21:52

Either of the first two versions would show proper respect for the recipients; neither would violate any rules of the language or any conventions of letter writing. The second version, however, has the obvious disadvantage of being lengthy and cumbersome, which favours the first one. As has been pointed out in a comment by Mr. Wayne, the first version is analogous to the well established practice of using Messrs in salutations.


What about a "Dear Sirs"? It is used a similar salutation here in Italy, but maybe is not suitable for your purpose. :-)

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    In English, Dear Sirs/Mesdames and its variants are used only if one doesn't know the names of the addressees. – jsw29 Apr 21 at 16:43

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