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Greeting for Letters and Emails

Greetings for Letters and Emails

When you begin a letter or an email, you usually start by greeting the person you are writing to; this is also known as a “salutation.” But when should you use an informal greeting and when should you use a formal greeting? When writing to friends, family members, or people you are acquainted with, you can use “Dear” and his/her first name, as in:

Dear Michael,

When it is a more formal letter, for example, one to a potential employer or someone you have not met before, you can say “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern” (if you do not know the exact name of the person who will be reading your letter). You can also just use the person’s name followed by a colon- for example,

Dr. Williams:

If you don’t know whether you should use formal or informal style, use the formal style (including titles, like Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc…). It is better to be too formal rather than too informal!

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