The proper way to write a greeting or salutation in formal emails

Written by amanda johnson
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The proper way to write a greeting or salutation in formal emails
E-mail is faster than sending mail by regular post. (Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

E-mail has surpassed usage over conventional mail by post as it allows you to send your message instantly, does not require paper, envelopes or postage. Although e-mails are often written informally, business e-mails should be written in the traditional business letter format. Greetings and salutations in business e-mails take the same form as used in printed formal business letters.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Start the email with the word "Dear" with no quotes. Dear is not considered a term of endearment, but rather a courteous way to start a formal e-mail or business letter.

  2. 2

    Use formal titles, such as Dr. or Reverend. Following the word "Dear," type the formal title of the person being addressed, followed by their last name. If they do not have a formal title, use Mr., Mrs., Ms. or Miss depending on the persons martial status. If you are unsure if a female is single or married, use "Ms."

  3. 3

    Type the person's full name if you are unsure of the recipient's gender. For example, the name Corey is used by both genders. To avoid offending the recipient write "Dear Corey Thompson."

  4. 4

    Avoid writing "To Whom It May Concern" if you are unsure who the email is being sent to. You should be as specific as possible. Use the person's title, such as "Dear Recruiter" or "Dear Sir" or "Dear Madam" if you know the recipient's gender or title.

  5. 5

    Follow the greeting with a colon. Do not use a coma.

Tips and warnings

  • When sending an e-mail to multiple people, use a formal title for each person. For example, use "Dear Mr. Jenkins and Mrs. Thompson" if you are writing to two people.
  • Do not use slang in a formal e-mail. For example, "yo" or "what's up" should be avoided.
  • Do not spell out words such as Dr.; Mr., Mrs. or Ms.

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