Addressing several recipients in an academic thank-you email

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wildetudor

New Member
Romanian
Hello everbody!

I know the question of multiple recipients has been discussed many times on the forum, however I have doubts about the particular case I am in.

I have recently met with a panel of three academics at a British university, and would like to write a "thank you" note (by email) to all of them. One of the people is someone with whom I will be working with directly, and the others I might not see again, however I would like the note to be addressed to all three of them.

I've worked out that it's best to write a single email, with all of their email addresses entered in the To field, rather than in the Cc field, or rather than writing three separate emails (if someone has a better idea, please feel free to suggest!). However, I am not entirely sure what the first line of the email should be.

Two of these two people are from the academic staff of the university (professors), and the third is administrative staff. How best to address them:

(1) "Dear Professor Mochrie, Professor Stiles and Mrs Sherwood", or
(2) "Dear Professors Mochrie and Stiles, dear Mrs Sherwood"?

It might look like I'm splitting hairs here, but I'd really like to get this one right. If anyone can help me decide which of these forms of address is better suited (or indeed suggest another variant!), I would really appreciate it. Many thanks in advance for any replies!
 
  • MJRupeJM

    Senior Member
    USA
    English- U.S.
    Perhaps substitute "Dr." for "Professor" and use the first case--unless by chance all three have doctorates?
     
    Last edited:

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I have the feeling I'm going to be scowled at for being horribly old-fashioned; but I would put females first.

    Which might - if the Professors are male - imply: "Dear Mrs Sherwood, Professor Mochrie, and Professor Stiles".
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I agree that order is important. Some people avoid the problem of appearing to rank the addressees by putting the names in alphabetical order, without reference to gender.

    If you prefer, you could combine the two systems: females first, males second, each in alphabetical order.
     

    MJRupeJM

    Senior Member
    USA
    English- U.S.
    I agree with Loob and Cagey; putting "Mrs." after "Professor" seems to imply (at least to me) that she is of lower rank than the others. Since all three were on the panel and should be considered as equals, I think putting "Mrs." first is the polite thing to do.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I would actually recommend separate emails (the text can be the same), partly to avoid the issue you raise and partly out of (possibly an outdated) sense of courtesy. I'm only just past the stage of saying "write a letter by hand" for a situation like this and have accepted email as a modern day alternative. However, the extra effort of sending 3 separate emails is surely a small one to provide the recipients with something that is at least a little more personal :D
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Wildetudor might have a reason for sending a single email - eg to indicate to each that he/she has not been singled out? If not, Julian's solution might be the best one?

    Presumably, the people addressed are older than Wildetudor? Otherwise, these days, it is not unusual to employ first names, particularly if you have already met them.

    If you still want to write a combined message and use titles, go with Loob's, Cagey's and Rupe's suggestions.
     

    wildetudor

    New Member
    Romanian
    Thank you very much to all who replied, I really appreciate the help.

    I could not agree more that order is important, in fact I was hoping someone would advise me on that as well. I also agree with generally putting females first if addressing a mixed group of recipients, however the reason I chose to address them in that order was based on my relationship with each of them, which I figured was the more specific criterion for this case.
    Thus, I thought Professor Mochrie should go first since he's really the only one with whom I will continue to see (and is the principal investigator for the project I was applying to be part of), the second Professor is also (remotely) related to the project but not directly involved in it, and the lady is probably either an administrator or an HR representative. This, of course, does not mean she's any less important, but I put her last based on the criterion I just mentioned.
    I'm not sure sorting their names alphabetically (coupled with addressing the lady first, so really just sorting the two male name) would be visible, since there are only three people, I think it would just seem random (unless it happened to coincide with either the LadiesFirst or the RelevantToProjectFirst criteria :) ).

    These people are all older than me (probably all in the 33-40 range, compared to my age which now shows up in my profile :) ).

    All of this said, if someone still is of the opinion that the lady should be addressed first, please let me know, and I will definitely consider it. The next question then becomes whether I repeat the titles of the professors or not, i.e. say "Dear Mrs A, Professor B and Professor C", or "Dear Mrs A, dear Professors B and C".

    As for writing three separate emails, I agree this would be more personal, without, of course, requiring any extra effort on my part, but I just thought it might be better for all three to know that the note was addressed to all of them rather than thinking they've been, for some reason, singled out, as natkretep correctly pointed out. Both options have pros and cons, but right now I think I tend to favour the unique email option. What do others think?
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Just wanted to ask you about the title 'Professor'. In the UK, it tends to be ages and ages before people become professors (typically 45 years old and upwards), going up from lecturer, senior lecturer and reader. This makes it different from the practice in some other parts of the world. If the two mentioned are not full professors, it would be more conventional to address them as Dr Mochrie and Dr Stiles. Of course, it could be that they are very young professors ...
     

    BellaDancer

    Senior Member
    I would recommend "Dear Mrs Sherwood, Professor Mochrie, and Professor Stiles" regardless of the closeness of your relationships to them. I would recommend this even if one or both of the professors are women. I would do this to give the status of being first to the person without the academic title. And I would put the titles individually for each person because the individual address is more respectful, and because, again, it does not isolate the person without the academic title. You don't want to say "dear people with a high status title and by the way you other person over there on the side."

    Exaggerated, of course, but nuance is everything.
     
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