Business Letter and Business Email Salutations [Updated 2022]
Dear Reader: Dear Reader, Hi Reader, Good afternoon, Reader: Hey Reader!
Are you confused about shaping salutations in business letters and business emails?
How to start a letter or email is one of the most frequently asked questions in business writing courses. To begin, let’s clarify which documents use a salutation:A business letter communicates information outside the organization and requires a salutation.
- A business memo communicates information inside an organization and does not include a salutation.
- A business email communicates information both inside and outside an organization and should include a salutation on the first message.
Tip: Base your salutation choice directly on your recipient. Especially focus on your relationship with that recipient.
Business letter salutations
Salutations can be confusing. We have outlined the best salutations for different situations and relationships. You will find additional information on email salutations in the second half of this article.
The standard business letter
The standard salutation for a business letter is the salutation Dear, followed by the person’s name and sometimes a title, closing with a colon.
Hint: Use Dear when addressing a cover letter.
Dear Ms. Reader:
Dear Attorney Adams:
Standard social letter
The standard salutation for a more social business letter or personal letter is the salutation Dear, followed by the person’s name and sometimes a title, closing with a comma.
Dear Ms. Writer,
Dear Pastor Amanci,
(Social business letters address congratulations, thanks, condolences, or other non-business-related issues. It's for more informal correspondence.)
Formal business letter
If you do not know a person well or are making the first contact, it is always best to lean towards a formal salutation. Use a professional title and the last name for your formal letter.
Dear Mr. Sancheza:
Dear Dr. Amanci:
If you know the recipient well
You can use their first name only.
Name not known
What if you're addressing an unknown recipient? If you do not know the person’s name, try to find it. If it’s impossible to locate, then use a person’s position as the salutation.
Dear Tax Adjuster:
To two or more women:
Use the title you know each prefers. If you do not know a recipient’s preferred title, use the neutral title Ms.
Dear Mrs. Adams, Ms. Kott, and Miss Connor
To a woman and a man:
List the recipient who is highest in corporate rank first, and alphabetize the order if they are equal in corporate rank.
Dear Ms. Fong and Mr. Mendle
To several persons:
Dear Mr. MacDonald, Mrs. Brady, and Dr. Mellon:
Business email salutations
Hold these same letter standards for a business email (i.e. one that is functioning like a business letter, such as a first response to a client inquiry, a sales letter, or a proposal.) For less formal emails use the following guidance.
Less formal email
Match your salutation and tone to your relationship with the recipient and end the salutation with a comma rather than a colon:
Good morning, David,*
* Only use "Good morning, David" if you are certain David will read this email in the morning. See post, Using Time Salutations Carefully for more info.
(Only use the slang term hey for your most informal email with your best work pals. "Hey" is too casual in wider business use.)
Skipping a salutation
In informal situations, you can omit a salutation but you can still incorporate the person’s name in the opening of the message:
You’re right, David. I forgot.
Craft the perfect salutation
Whatever type of business correspondence you are completing, adding the proper salutation communicates your level of professionalism. Refer to this list to use the correct salutation, no matter the business situation.
More resources about business email:
Dive even deeper into email and letter writing in our most popular business writing course.
Our Effective Business Writing Techniques Course teaches bedrock business writing - emails, letters, reports, and more.View Course & Outline