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Business Letter Salutation

Abhijit Naik Jan 27, 2019
In business settings, how you come across is more important than what you are, and that explains why letter salutation etiquette are not taken lightly anymore. We have compiled a set of business letter salutations you could use the next time you face the daunting task of writing such letter.
Salutation is one of the most important, and yet one of the most underrated aspects of letter writing. A salutation is basically a greeting, most often used in case of formal letter, with which you are expected to begin the letter. It helps to set the tone of the letter, and therefore one has to be careful when selecting the words to use.
In order to choose the right salutation for writing a business letter, one has to take into consideration quite a few things, including the seniority of the person being addressed and the relationship they share. If the two are on good terms, even the use of first name would not be a problem; if not, that might come across as a bit rude.
Personal details, like educational background, gender, and marital status of the person, also have to be taken into consideration when addressing him. Here are a few salutation etiquette that you need to follow when writing a formal business letter.

Salutation for Business Letters

By far the most widely used method of opening a business letter is with 'Dear', followed by name, or title, and a colon.

Dear Mr. Rogers:
Dear Mrs. Williams:
Dear Ms. Martins:
Dear Raymond Brown:
Dear Raymond: (Only if you know the person well)
The word 'Dear' strikes the right cord, as it often comes across as professional, yet informal. Many people question its use in business letters; business relationships, they say, are not always on good terms.
A business communication should ideally begin on a positive note, even when the relationship in itself is going downhill, and what better way to do that, but to choose a proper salutation to begin with.
The name used in salutations is most often the one that is used in inside address, i.e., the recipient's address. When writing to some organization, it is always better to address the letter to a particular individual in that organization.
If you have any queries, like whom you should address or the said person's designation, you should contact the concerned office and get them cleared in the very beginning. Researching in advance is a must; it doesn't just save you the embarrassment, but also ensures that you don't end up offending the other person.
As for punctuation, in American English, a colon (:) is used after the name. In British English, a comma (,) is used instead. The practice of using only the first name without any comma or colon is quite popular when it comes to informal letters, but in formal letters even these punctuation marks are of great importance.

Different Scenarios

※ If the person you are addressing has some special title, like professor, senator, reverend, etc., you can use the same in the salutation.

Dear Professor Davis:
Dear Senator Miller:
Dear Reverend Walker:
※ If you are not sure about the gender of the person you are addressing, you can use their full name, without using Mr., Mrs., or Ms. (This is most likely to happen in case of gender-neutral or unisex names, and cases wherein only the initials are available.)

Dear Ashley Wilson:
Dear J. K. Anderson:
※ If you are not aware of the name or gender of the receiver, you should ideally use a non-existing salutation.

To Whom it May Concern:
Dear Sir/Madam:
※ If you don't know the person's name, but are aware of the gender, you can simply use --

Dear Sir:
Dear Madam:
※ If you know the designation of the person you are addressing, but don't know his name, you can use the designation to address him.

Dear Hiring Manager:
Dear HR Manager:
※ If you have any doubt about the marital status of the woman you are addressing, you can always opt for the safe way out and use Ms. (instead of Mrs. or Miss), or use her full name.

Dear Ms. Smith:
Dear Ruth Smith:
※ If you are referring to two individuals, you can separate their names using 'and'. In case you want to refer to more than two individuals, you can either write their names separated by commas, or simply use 'Gentlemen' or 'Ladies' to address them.
Dear Mr. Jones and Mr. Taylor:
Dear Mr. Thompson and Dr. Garcia:
Dear Mr. Thompson, Dr. Garcia, Mr. Moore, Mrs. Jackson, and Mr. Martin:
Ladies and Gentlemen:


Salutation is no doubt a crucial element of any formal letter, and so is valediction or complimentary close (incorrectly referred to as closing salutation at times.) You should avoid using valedictions that sound a bit too stuffy, or too casual, as they can take away the professional feel of your letter.
Kind Regards:
Best Regards:
With Appreciation:
Note: As in case of the salutation, even the valediction should to be followed by a colon.
Whether it's a business e-mail or business letter, a salutation will more or less remain the same. You can be a bit liberal in case of e-mails, but overdoing it might send a wrong message. Keep in mind that a business letter reflects your professionalism, and being one of the most important part of this letter, salutation has to be given due importance.