We have a couple options for email greetings. When choosing an email greeting, think about your own style, the company’s style and the person you are writing to. Here are five options with some tips on how to use each greeting.
Email greetings from formal to casual:
Dear Jan Smith:
Dear + first name + last name:
First notice the colon (:). We use a colon in official, formal email greetings. This is a good choice for people who you don’t know well, for example: prospective clients and cold emails. This is how the Canadian government and my bank address emails to me. The advantage of this email greeting is that you don’t need to know if the person is a man or woman. In our example, Jan could be a male or female name, so using the complete name avoids embarrassing errors.
Dear Mr. Smith,
Dear + title + last name,
You could use a colon here instead of a comma, which is a bit more informal. This is a very popular choice for formal correspondance that is similar to the one above. Usually we use this greeting when we don’t know the person or work in a more traditional industry (e.g. banks, legal profession, insurance). Make sure you know if the person is a man or a woman. If they are a woman, use Ms. unless the person uses a different title.
Dear + first name,
This is the most friendly of the three dear options. It is still professional, but is the most friendly. I would recommend it for coworkers, partners or clients you have a good relationship with.
Some people resist using dear in professional correspondance because they feel it sounds intimate. Dear is the convention in professional English communication and I would recommend watching this video before you decide to avoid using dear in business correspondance. I really recommend using dear to all my students–I don’t think you can go wrong with it.
Title + last name,
This is suitable for many different types of emails ranging from co-workers to clients. Some people don’t like it because it is too direct. I would say it is a neutral level email greeting, right in the middle.
Hello + first name,
This is a more casual greeting. I would only use it with colleagues you know or clients/partners that you have a reasonably close relationship with. Some companies have a culture that is more casual, so they might use this too. If you can wear flipflops to work on a Tuesday, this could be an acceptable greeting for your emails. Sometimes people put a period at the end of the greeting (.), that’s ok, but a little bit unconventional.
Hi + first name,
Our final greeting is the most casual and is mostly used with friends. It’s a common email greeting, but many people find it unprofessional.