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Letter Salutations

Letter Salutations and Greetings

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When addressing correspondence it is important to use an appropriate salutation for the type of letter you are sending. There are differences in what is appropriate depending on how well you know the recipient, and whether you are writing a posted letter or an email.

Types of Letter Salutations

Since the salutation is the first thing the recipient will see, it's important that you convey an appropriate level of familiarity and respect.

Dear - Is appropriate many times, whether you know the person well, if they are a business acquaintance, a potential employer, or a supervisor. If you know the person well, use their first name only. For a potential employer or supervisor, use Mr., or Ms. (Mrs. or Miss when you know if the woman is married or single) unless you have been asked to use their first name.

For a business acquaintance or associate, it will depend on how well you know the person. If you are on a first name basis, use that. If you aren't sure, use Mr./Ms. Lastname, or Mr./Ms. Firstname Lastname. If your contact name is gender neutral (ie.Taylor Brown), and you are unsure, Dear Taylor Brown is also appropriate.

Dear Sir or Madam - Use the appropriate gender title if you know, or both if you're not sure. This should only be used when you don't have a name to use, as you should always address your letters as specifically as possible. This can slo be construed as outdated.

To Whom It May Concern - Used in business correspondence where you don't have a specific person to whom you are writing. You might use this when making an inquiry, but you should make every effort to find the name of someone in the specific department that you are interested in to contact.

Hello - Is appropriate only in email correspondence, and should be used primarily with people you know well, or in very casual circumstances.

Hi - Is appropriate only in casual email correspondence with people you know well.

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