My advisor recommended I email a well-known professor at another institution because of our shared interests.

He said I should use his name in my email so I'm good on that.

I (of course) refer to professors in my department and other professors who I have met by their first name. But having never met this particular person I am wondering what the least awkward least offensive most professional salutation would be in an email to hopefully set up a meeting.

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    Dear Prof. <Name> -- because you don't know the professor personally, you are writing a total stranger, and should write accordingly. – user42177 Oct 15 '15 at 22:18
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    Are you asking about how to address the well-known professor, or how to refer to your advisor towards that well-known professor? In any case, you'll have to tell us in what language region and country you are. Customs differ wildly (to the point that your "of course" concerning first names is by no means so universal). – O. R. Mapper Oct 15 '15 at 22:19

Probably "Dear Professor [name], I am a student of Professor [your advisor's surname], and (s)he suggested that I write to you about ..."

At worst, a bit of excess formality may seem silly, but it will not seem disrespectful or rude, in any case.

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    Yes, always begin with a comfortable level of formal politeness in the first email. With practice, you will get more comfortable doing this, and it won't feel stilted. – aparente001 Oct 17 '15 at 15:58
  • Thanks for the help - I will accept this answer but wanted to ask a follow-up: Does it matter that this person is now employed at a research organization and is no longer technically a professor? He does not appear to go by Dr. anywhere I can see (though he has a doctorate). Thanks again. – BGTP33 Oct 28 '15 at 7:34

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