How to Address a Female in a Formal Letter

Written by dawn westin
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How to Address a Female in a Formal Letter
Properly addressing a female letter recipient conveys respect. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Given that the only gender-specific honorific for addressing a man is Mr., while there are Mrs., Ms., and Miss for women, addressing a formal letter to a woman can be a bit confusing. You want to use a professional tone in your letter without unintentionally offending your recipient. Learn the proper protocol for addressing a woman in a formal letter to avoid damaging your credibility.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Begin your salutation with "Dear."

  2. 2

    Use her business title followed by her surname if you know it. For example, begin a letter to a paediatrician named Samantha Jones, "Dear Dr. Jones,".

  3. 3

    Use Ms. followed by her surname unless specifically asked to use Mrs. or Miss in the event you do not know her title. If you did not know that Samantha Jones was a paediatrician, you would begin your letter, "Dear Ms. Jones,".

  4. 4

    Use Mrs. or Miss if you are replying to a letter in which your recipient referred to herself as such. If you are responding to a letter from Samantha Jones that she signed, "Sincerely, Mrs. Jones," then address your letter to Mrs. Jones instead of Ms. Jones.

  5. 5

    Begin your letter with, "Dear Madam," in the event that you know your recipient is female but do not know her name.

Tips and warnings

  • Never guess your recipient's gender. If you are not 100 per cent sure that a woman will receive your letter, begin with, "To whom it may concern,". Likewise, use your recipient's full first and last name if you are writing to a person with a gender-neutral name, such as "Taylor," and are not sure whether that person is male or female.

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