- 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