Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tip of the Day: Email and Letter Salutations

When emailing or sending a letter for the first time or to someone you don't know well, here are a few pointers to make sure you make a good impression.


  • Spell their name correctly; double check

  • If they have a gender-neutral name, do a little research to find out if they are male or female; make sure your pronouns match their gender; when in doubt, ask someone

  • When the person is in a position of authority and you are asking for something (especially the first time), don't be too casual

  • Use "Dear," not "Hi," "Hello," "Hey," etc.

  • Address the person as "Mr." or "Ms.," "Judge," "Professor," "Dean," etc.  Do not use "Mrs."

  • Don't use their first name and their last name in the salutation, ie. "Dear John Smith," or "John Smith"

  • A comma is appropriate after the salutation, ie. "Dear Mr. Smith,"

  • If your relationship progresses to the point that you can call the person by their first name, check and double check the spelling

  • Letters are inherently more formal, use, "Dear Ms. Jones," "Dear Professor Anderson," "Dear Judge Black"
  • Use a colon following the salutation, ie. "Dear Mr. Smith:"

For additional examples, see the Career Services Office Guide to Professional Development>Chapter 8>Sample Cover Letters

and Sample Cover Email