Writing a Professional E-mail Message

oregonAlthough e-mail is normally a casual and very colloquial medium, people often use it for more important business or academic purposes. Writers of professional e-mails should strive to send the cleanest and most professional messages possible.

At Beaumont Hardy, we edit commercial and professional e-mails for all writers and for all subjects.

The following is an unedited academic e-mail to a professor. Below the unedited version is my edit of the same text. My editorial comments are at the bottom of the post.

Dear Professor Palgrave,

I’m in your modern American film class, and you said we should send you an e-mail to tell you about our topics. I’m not really sure what I want to write about, but I was thinking of writing about how Pretty Woman is like another version of cinderella. The main problem is that there isn’t really a movie of cinderella that I can compare Pretty Woman to, but I think the story of cinderella is well known enough that I might not have to have a movie to compare.

I was basically going to say that the Julia Roberts character in Pretty Woman is like a modern cinderella, because she starts out in a deadend job and doesn’t really have that many opportunities. And then, in the end, some kind of magical things happen (or magical in terms of emotions), and she ends up having a happy ending.

I’m not sure if this is really a good idea for a paper, so I wanted to know if you had any ideas for changing it or making it better.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

[name withheld]

Here is the e-mail in its edited form:

Dear Professor Palgrave,

I am a student in your Modern American Film class, and I wanted to send you some thoughts about my paper topic. I have not yet determined the exact focus of my paper, but I would like to write about Pretty Woman as another version of the Cinderella story. However, I believe that there is no movie version of Cinderella that I can use for comparison. Do you think the Cinderella story is well-known enough that I might not necessarily need to refer to a movie version of it?

The main point of my paper is that the Julia Roberts character in Pretty Woman is a modern Cinderella, because she has a dead-end job and few opportunities at the beginning of the story. Several magical things happen to her (magical in terms of emotions), and she has a happy ending.

Please let me know if this idea will work for my paper or if you have any ideas for changing or improving this topic.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

[name withheld]

Here is the passage with my editing marks visible. My comments to the author are in brackets and italicized. The portions I cut appear with a strike-through, and the portions I added are underlined. (In a normal Word document with “Track Changes,” my editing marks are in red, and my comments are in their own separate section, not inserted into the text.)

Dear Professor Palgrave,

I am in your Mmodern American Ffilm [I assume that this class is called Modern American Film.] class, and I wanted to send you some thoughts about my paper topicyou said we should send you an e-mail to tell you about our topics.[I changed this sentence so that you’re not telling the professor what she said. One assumes that she remembers her own instructions.] I have not yet determined the exact focus of my paperI’m not really sure what I want to write about [I’m making it sound like you have given the topic a great deal of thought.], but I would like to write I was thinking of writing[This way, you sound more decisive and sure of yourself.] about how Pretty Woman ais like another version of the Ccinderella story. However, I realize that there is no movie version of Cinderella that I can use for comparison. The main problem is that there isn’t really a movie of cinderella that I can compare Pretty Woman to, Do you think the Cinderella story is well-known enough that I might not necessarily need to refer to a movie version of it? but I think the story of cinderella is well known enough that I might not have to have a movie to compare.[It seems like a good idea to defer to your professor’s expertise.]

The main point of my paper isI was basically going to say that the Julia Roberts character in Pretty Woman is like a modern Ccinderella, because she has starts out in a deadend job and few doesn’t really have that many opportunities at the beginning of the story. Several And then, in the end, some kind of magical things happen to her (or magical in terms of emotions), and she has ends up having a happy ending.

Please let me know if this idea will work for my paper orI’m not sure if this is really a good idea for a paper, so I wanted to know if you hadve any ideas for changing it or improving this topicmaking it better.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

[name withheld]

[Please send me your comments about this Sample Edit. To submit your own work for a free edit–and inclusion in a posting on this blog–please write to me at jane@beaumonthardy.com.]

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