Salutation for Letter Sent “In Care Of”

Reader Question: "If you are writing a business letter going to Jane Doe in care of John Doe, would you use Dear John or Dear Jane for your salutation?"


“In care of” indicates the person to whom you are sending the letter (in this case, Jane Doe) does not live at this address, but is receiving mail there. Jane has designated someone at that address to receive and care for her mail (in this case, John Doe.)

“In care of” helps the post office deliver mail correctly, with no confusion about addressee or address, and enables someone traveling or moving or residing temporarily to receive mail at a designated permanent address.

Since John Doe is simply holding the mail for Jane, the recipient of the letter is Jane. Therefore, the correct salutation is Dear Jane:

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Mary Cullen

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Mary Cullen

Mary founded Instructional Solutions in 1998, and is an internationally recognized business writing trainer and executive writing coach with two decades of experience helping thousands of individuals and businesses master the strategic skill of business writing. She excels at designing customized business writing training programs to maximize productivity, advance business objectives, and convey complex information. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Rhode Island, an M.A. in English Literature from Boston College, and a C.A.G.S. in Composition and Rhetoric from the University of New Hampshire.

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