I recently asked two of my professors to write me recommendation letters and they promptly and kindly accepted to do that. It is now two weeks since then. I want to send “thank you” notes to them. Is it enough to send e-mails? I have heard that it is more polite to send a written letter by US post, but it is a little bit weird when we are all in the same building! Isn’t it? Can I send them some kind of gift on a special occasion?

  • @DavidRicherby I think this is not duplicate because it is about the etiquette of thanking long before the outcome is known.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 12:38
  • If you feel it's more polite to use a hand-written letter than an email, then go ahead and do that but there's no need to involve the postal service to move a piece of paper within a single building. Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 12:56
  • @jakebeal The answers to the other question say that just saying "thank you" would be fine even with the knowledge that the reference helped you get a nice job. That answers this question because anything more than just saying "thank you" can't be needed before the outcome is known. Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 12:59
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    Possible duplicate of On giving gifts to LOR writers
    – enthu
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 19:23

2 Answers 2


Don't worry about it too much, just say thank you. In person or over email are both fine: getting a good recommendation letter is a big deal for you, but writing recommendation letters for good students is a part of normal routine for a professor.

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    +1 A simple "thank" in person or by e-mail is wonderful. I have sometimes received handwritten notes or cards, or very, very rarely received small gifts. It's touching, but totally unnecessary. Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 15:27
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    Giving small gifts for writing a recommendation letter could set a dangerous precedent.
    – Moriarty
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 17:33

Recommenders also like to hear the results of the process. So one way to thank them (in addition to a written or emailed thank-you note) is to let them know which programs/jobs/schools you got into on account of their recommendation.

  • I'm being facetious, but what if you don't get accepted anywhere?
    – jonescb
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 17:05
  • Good question. Obviously, you don't want to bring it up as if to say "Thanks for nothing!" It could be a starter for seeking some advice about what to do next. Or, you could just never bring it up. The recommender will probably not track you down to ask what happened. Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 17:28
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    You shouldn't blame the letter writer for not getting a position. They should be called reference letters, not letters of recommendation. The letter writer is under no obligation to recommend someone for the position.
    – Moriarty
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 17:36
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    @jonescb "Thank you for writing me letters of reference. Unfortunately, I didn't get any of the positions I applied for." Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 13:00
  • @Moriarty I don't think anybody's suggesting the letter writer should be blamed. Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 13:39

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