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 Nov 14 '14 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. – David Richerby Nov 14 '14 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. – David Richerby Nov 14 '14 at 12:59
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    Possible duplicate of On giving gifts to LOR writers – enthu Jun 5 '19 at 19:23

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. – Geoff Hutchison Nov 13 '14 at 15:27
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    Giving small gifts for writing a recommendation letter could set a dangerous precedent. – Moriarty Nov 13 '14 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 Nov 13 '14 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. – Matthew Leingang Nov 13 '14 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 Nov 13 '14 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." – David Richerby Nov 14 '14 at 13:00
  • @Moriarty I don't think anybody's suggesting the letter writer should be blamed. – Matthew Leingang Nov 14 '14 at 13:39

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