Would it hurt the student's evaluation, if I were to send their recommendation letter from my gmail account as opposed to the institutional?

I use my gmail account for all my correspondence, it is listed on all my papers, university website, etc.

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    I'm not an expert, but I would try to use my institutional email for such correspondence "just in case".
    – The Guy
    Apr 14, 2016 at 14:58
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    Related - academia.stackexchange.com/questions/13845/…
    – avi
    Apr 14, 2016 at 16:46
  • Depending on where you are, there may also be legal implications requiring you to use institutional e-mail for institutional business. Apr 14, 2016 at 17:08
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    @JackAidley: ship's already sailed on that since the questioner doesn't use the institutional address for anything at the moment... Apr 14, 2016 at 17:47
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    I’m slightly surprised that no current answers are concretely answering the question asked. This site has lots of users who have been on hiring or admissions committees; surely one of them is able to give their experience of the topic, whether it’s “No, I never notice what email address referees use” or “Yes, it’s often discussed, since it can be a mechanism for attempted fraud.”
    – PLL
    Apr 15, 2016 at 0:11

3 Answers 3


You don't say what the recommendation letter is for, but it's generally not a big deal for academic letters in my experience. For industry letters, many businesses also use gmail, so it will probably not be looked on too strangely there either.

However, a plain text letter from gmail does look less professional than a one on official letterhead, so you might use your department letterhead. If you want to use gmail, you can also cc a copy of the letter to your instituional address to "certify" that you are who you claim to be.

  • I intended to send my letter as an attachment, which would have the official letterhead of the department. However, I really don't think the letterhead is hard to come by, am I missing something? Apr 15, 2016 at 10:00
  • @user3209815 I am saying a plain text email recommendation from a personal email address looks considerably less professional than a pdf of a signed letter on official letterhead. As in you went though the small amount of effort to make your letter look professional rather than putting just the minimum amount of effort into your letter. If I see a professional looking letter, whether it is sent from gmail or not won't make much of a difference to me.
    – Kimball
    Apr 15, 2016 at 13:16

I use my gmail, but gmail has the capability to manage the sender addresses. You should authenticate your gmail to send from your institutional address. The recipient will then have the confirmation that you are indeed who you say you are, as gmail will have already done the authentication.

The authenticator in gmail has the ability to either use the SMTP server of your institution to send (if your systems team permits it), where gmail is then acting as the mail client, or it can use the From headers to indicate your authenticated affiliation.

If you were doing it properly you could manage all your email through the gmail account and choose whichever outgoing account and sending method you choose. This is what I do, for the several academic institutional affiliations I possess.

So in summary: you can have it both ways. You can use gmail for official institutional correspondence and you can use the options provided in gmail to choose which of your attributions any particular email uses. It is appropriate to badge emails for official correspondence, such as letters of recommendation, with your institutional addresses. I would suggest not using a personal email addresses for business purposes, but using the tools properly you can customise your environment in a professional manner.

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    +1. In case it's not clear from this answer: Once you've demonstrated to Gmail that you have access to send messages from a certain e-mail address, you will subsequently have the option to use that address when sending an e-mail.
    – ruakh
    Apr 14, 2016 at 16:24
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    Doesn't actually answer the question...
    – user541686
    Apr 14, 2016 at 16:57
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    He clearly says, "I use Gmail". I took it to mean that he uses gmail to send recommendation letters, but if you were still worried that you could have your gmail send emails using your institutional email. That way regardless of which you use it looks professional. Apr 14, 2016 at 18:17
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    @QPayTaxes: unless I'm blind or dyslexic, I think the question was "Would it hurt the student's evaluation, if I were to send their recommendation letter from my gmail account as opposed to the institutional?" to which the answer is either yes or no.
    – user541686
    Apr 14, 2016 at 22:41
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    @PLL Oh, I see what you mean. I think it's answering the X to this question's Y -- that is, saying "your problem isn't really a problem". In my mind, that's a real answer.
    – anon
    Apr 15, 2016 at 1:16

For other purpose, I recently try to confirm that some professor X was indeed employed by University Y. This search taught me that some universities do not have directories for their faculty member or any other way to confirm online that professor X is a real researcher.

For this reason, I would strongly suggest to use your institutional email, in case there is doubt about your affiliation or existence.

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