I asked my professor to write a letter of recommendation for me. She said she would in general be happy to do that. I am quite self-conscious and worried, I would like to send an email back and say thanks, but I don't want to sound overly grateful. Since English isn't my first language, I would like to ask you how you would write something like this. Or: Would you maybe not write back at all, since the professor's email box must be super busy and sending a simple thank you email might annoy them more than anything else?

I'm so not sure about this, thanks a lot!

4 Answers 4


You're over-thinking this. It's almost always appropriate to say thanks when somebody does something for you. You won't be taking up more than a couple of seconds of your professor's time if you send a quick "thanks!"

Suppose that you'd asked for the reference in person rather than by email. You wouldn't say, "This professor is really busy so, the instant they say yes, I'll save two seconds of their time by running immediately from the room without thanking them."

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    As a super busy person who writes lots of LORs, a "thank you" is never, ever unwelcome. BECAUSE I am so busy and BECAUSE recommendations take up my precious time, a thank you for one just feels...nice. A thank you email is also a bright star in an email inbox of horror. Commented Apr 7, 2022 at 11:54

If her email being busy is an issue, then put in the title “thank you for the reference letter”

So, if they want to read it they can or they can save it for later - it’s always nice to receive thanks...


Agree. LORs take time/effort and professors typically write them for students who excel. One of my professors even addressed this in class -ie If you ask me to write you an LOR, make sure you were a good student (showed up for class, applied yourself during class, etc.)

You should say thank you.


You mention

the professor's email box must be super busy and sending a simple thank you email might annoy them

Why not just buy a card and send it through the postal mail? Most professors have a campus mailbox usually listed on their directory page. I am guessing that many of them would be more than happy to receive mail that wasn't about some journal/conference/vendor show.

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