How Do You Start and End a Business Email?

LadyX

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Original poster
Mar 4, 2012
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I'll be starting my first job ever in a week or two and I've been reading on the proper way to write emails for instance how messages and subject lines should be short and to the point, never use acronyms, limited punctuation, etc. But I'm still not sure about the salutation part and how I should open and end an email. I've read that it's recommended not to write formally with for example "Dear" and "Sincerely". But instead it's better to be informal and casual because it sounds more friendly? And to stay away from old-fashioned closing statements such as "Best Regards". For example: Hi, *first name* and ending it with "Thanks" followed by the sender's first name only. I don't know, I've read that formal is good but I've also read how informal is better. How do you do it?
 

Roller

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Jun 25, 2003
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How I do it depends on how well I know the recipient. If it's someone I've not yet established a relationship with, I don't think that it's appropriate to address them by their first name in my initial email. So I may begin with "Mr./Ms./Dr. X" or, occasionally, "Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. X" if I'm feeling formal.

One way around the conundrum is to start with "Good morning" or something similar. I sometimes do that when the recipient's gender is unclear (remember "Pat" from SNL?). Personally, I prefer not to send emails with no salutation, though people do it all the time.

As for closing, I think that "Sincerely" or "Thank you" are fine, again modulated according to how well I know the recipient and my relationship with them in the business hierarchy.

Over the years, I've found that small changes, such as adding an exclamation point after the final "Thanks" can help soften the tone of an email, as can starting with "Hi first name." Of course, this again depends on your relationship with the recipient.
 

adk

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Nov 11, 2005
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Stuck in the middle with you
I usually open with "Hello John," and usually sign with "Regards" over sincerely or thanks.

The above would be for talking to a customer or a colleague at another branch you've never met. If you're sending a quick email to your boss (and you're on good terms with him), "Hey John" is fine.
 

maflynn

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May 3, 2009
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Boston
It depends on how it is, but I usually start the email with their first name if its a co-worker and end with regards.

If its an outside contact, it depends on the business relationship I have with them, first name or the more traditional salutation Mr/Ms./Mrs
 

senseless

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Apr 23, 2008
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Pennsylvania, USA
I usually open with "Hello John," and usually sign with "Regards" over sincerely or thanks.

The above would be for talking to a customer or a colleague at another branch you've never met. If you're sending a quick email to your boss (and you're on good terms with him), "Hey John" is fine.
I like Regards also. Kind of friendly retro.
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
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The Far Horizon

Firstly, it largely depends on the context of the work world you are entering.

If the email is written on behalf of an international organisation, or a Government Department, for example, you can expect the tone and content to be quite formal.

The creative and artistic worlds (and the tech world, come to think of it) tend to be a lot more informal. When I was an academic, the academic world also tended to be relatively informal in how they expressed themselves in emails.

Then, there is the matter of who you are addressing in your email; are they superiors, subordinates, colleagues, or others outside the organisation. Are they friends?

Personally, I would always err slightly on the side of a more formal tone rather than less formal tone in emails. I think it looks better, and - again, speaking personally, - I loathe the assumption of close friendship in breezy and overfamiliar emails. Words matter.

In my case, I will always start a professional email with 'Dear Mr/Ms/Dr/Mrs' followed by the person's surname - and, depending on the context, (which is whether or not I actually know the person or have had personal dealings with them, and whether they are at my grade or above or below that), I may use their first name after the salutation 'Dear'.

As for closing, I am a fan of the old 'Kind regards'; if the person has been helpful, I will thank them warmly - nobody minds receiving a proper acknowledgement of what they have done, even if it is their job.

Re informal emails, even in a professional setting, I will send those, but only if I have come to know the person reasonably well; this kind of informality tends to be confined to people who would be at your own grade, or under that.

Hope this helps somewhat.
 
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Apple fanboy

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Feb 21, 2012
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Behind the Lens, UK
I'll be starting my first job ever in a week or two and I've been reading on the proper way to write emails for instance how messages and subject lines should be short and to the point, never use acronyms, limited punctuation, etc. But I'm still not sure about the salutation part and how I should open and end an email. I've read that it's recommended not to write formally with for example "Dear" and "Sincerely". But instead it's better to be informal and casual because it sounds more friendly? And to stay away from old-fashioned closing statements such as "Best Regards". For example: Hi, *first name* and ending it with "Thanks" followed by the sender's first name only. I don't know, I've read that formal is good but I've also read how informal is better. How do you do it?
Always Hi LadyX to start
I have several email signatures set up which contain information about the company you work for and your position there. Generally Kind Regards Apple fanboy
See what the norm is at your place of work and do the same is my advice. Good luck in your new job.
 

turtle777

macrumors 6502a
Apr 30, 2004
678
15
Been ending my business emails with "Best regards" for 15 years.

got no complaints.

:)

-t
 

LadyX

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Original poster
Mar 4, 2012
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Thank you for the helpful replies so far.

Can I start off with the recipient's name for example:

Samantha Stewart,

I write with reference to ...

Best,
*first + last name*


Also, when sending an email to more than one recipient, can I just start with "To whom it may concern" or something like "Greetings"?
 

LadyX

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Mar 4, 2012
2,358
249

Firstly, it largely depends on the context of the work world you are entering.

If the email is written on behalf of an international organisation, or a Government Department, for example, you can expect the tone and content to be quite formal.
I appreciate the post, SS. I'll be working in a private company, Human Resource department.


Always Hi LadyX to start
I have several email signatures set up which contain information about the company you work for and your position there. Generally Kind Regards Apple fanboy
See what the norm is at your place of work and do the same is my advice. Good luck in your new job.
Thank you! I'm excited and nervous at the same time :D
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
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The Far Horizon
Thank you for the helpful replies so far.

Can I start off with the recipient's name for example:

Samantha Stewart,

I write with reference to ...

Best,
*first + last name*


Also, when sending an email to more than one recipient, can I just start with "To whom it may concern" or something like "Greetings"?
No, I would not recommend simply starting with the person's name for a formal email and omitting the salutation. "Dear Ms Stewart," or "Dear Samantha" would work better. If you know her, 'Hi Samantha' is fine.

In my case, I will only start with the person's name (and no salutation) for friends, to whom I am sending an email, or text, usually following - say - a phone call where we discussed something, and I am sending on something that occurred to me, or confirmed, or a warning, or reminder, or something extra that they may need to know, or that I have just promised to do, I might then start abruptly with the person's name - "Samantha, remember the MD might be there, too".

For signing off, 'kind regards', or 'best regards' always work. If I wish to inject a warmer note in an email to someone, (usually someone who has been helpful), after thanking them, I will sometimes write 'With my very best regards'.


I appreciate the post, SS. I'll be working in a private company, Human Resource department.




Thank you! I'm excited and nervous at the same time :D
My pleasure. Best of luck with it.

Re: 'To Whom It May Concern', again, speaking personally, (and I am a European with a personal preference for the elegance and precision of some formality in such dealings - I know that the US is somewhat different), I wouldn't use that expression. Instead, I would use, 'Dear colleagues'……...
 

LadyX

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Original poster
Mar 4, 2012
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How Do You Start and End a Business Email?

Ah okay. What about punctuation after a salutation? I've seen people use commas and others use semicolons. I personally use a comma or a dash or rarely just an open punctuation after a greeting. I feel semicolons look weird: Dear Ms. Stewart;
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
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The Far Horizon
Ah okay. What about punctuation after a salutation? I've seen people use commas and others use semicolons. I personally use a comma or a dash or rarely just an open punctuation after a greeting. I feel semicolons look weird: Dear Ms. Stewart;
A comma, followed by a clear line (which makes it more legible on screen).

"Dear Ms Stewart,

I am writing to you about….."

 

satcomer

macrumors 603
Feb 19, 2008
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The Finger Lakes Region
Trust me when I say you will gave MANY corporate emailers that think they have to use the "reply all" Outlook button to ALL their email conversations! :rolleyes:
 
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Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
45,623
30,799
The Far Horizon
Trust me when I say you will gave MANY corporate emailers thst think they have to use the "reply all" Outlook button to ALL their email conversations! :rolleyes:
Oh, yes. Amen to that.

Beware the 'reply all' (or use it most sparingly) and the BCC keys. Best give them a very wide berth - many people have come to grief through careless hitting of those keys.

Personally, I prefer to type the names of those to whom I will additionally send the email in the 'cc' line.

Be clear as to the topic of the email in the 'Header' line - you'd be amazed, (well, no, you wouldn't) at the numbers of individuals who fail to do this. It will help the person to whom it is sent return at speed to it hours later if necessary when scrolling back.
 

D.T.

macrumors G3
Sep 15, 2011
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Just for fun, I did a quick review of recent emails to see what greeting I used ...

Good Morning <firstname>
Team
Hey <firstname>
Thank you <firstname>
<rank> <lastname>
*boom*
People

Clearly most (none?) of these are recommend when using a more formal communication style, though I tend to operate more on the fringe :D

FWIW, that included internal emails to 3-4 different companies where I'm owner/partnered, external to company C-levels, and also clients inside of Federal agencies :)
 

chown33

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 9, 2009
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Pumpkindale
I appreciate the post, SS. I'll be working in a private company, Human Resource department.
If it were me, I'd ask my supervisor in the department how they want the emails written. I suspect they have templates or examples already.

Or use the emails they sent you as examples. I assume you have at least one message from them that used email.
 

Osarkon

macrumors 68020
Aug 30, 2006
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4
Wales
Depends on if I know the person for the beginning, but I always end my emails with 'Kind regards'.
 

LadyX

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Mar 4, 2012
2,358
249
Thank you all for the tips and information. I wasn't sure prior to this thread the acceptable and appropriate salutations. Since I'll be employed in the HR sector of the company, I'll be sending lots of emails so this all really helpful.
 

LadyX

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Mar 4, 2012
2,358
249
How Do You Start and End a Business Email?

Trust me when I say you will gave MANY corporate emailers that think they have to use the "reply all" Outlook button to ALL their email conversations! :rolleyes:
Yes! You're right.


Oh, yes. Amen to that.

Beware the 'reply all' (or use it most sparingly) and the BCC keys. Best give them a very wide berth - many people have come to grief through careless hitting of those keys.

Personally, I prefer to type the names of those to whom I will additionally send the email in the 'cc' line.
I've read all about Carbon copy (Cc) and Blind carbon copy (Bcc) when I was in university and after making an embarrassing email mistake. I intended to send something to a friend and I did not know what Cc was and I accidentally Cc'd my professor in the email. So yes, I now know when to use each.
 

Roller

macrumors 68030
Jun 25, 2003
2,527
964
Trust me when I say you will gave MANY corporate emailers that think they have to use the "reply all" Outlook button to ALL their email conversations! :rolleyes:
I never use the reply all function in Outlook — I much prefer Apple Mail. :) Seriously, I wish there were an option to verify Reply All ("Are you sure you want to Reply All?") responses when there are more than a user-specified number of recipients.

----------

Thank you all for the tips and information. I wasn't sure prior to this thread the acceptable and appropriate salutations. Since I'll be employed in the HR sector of the company, I'll be sending lots of emails so this all really helpful.
It will also help to pay attention to the emails you receive from others at the company.
 

yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,888
2,480
St. Louis, MO
Trust me when I say you will gave MANY corporate emailers that think they have to use the "reply all" Outlook button to ALL their email conversations! :rolleyes:
Oh god. Reply to all. That button should make you pass an intelligence test before it sends the e-mail.

True story: Someone accidentally set a distribution list containing tens of thousands of employees as the e-mail address for build failure notifications in a Jenkins environment. Probably a very bad copy/paste error. Well, one day before whoever runs this environment noticed, a build failed, and tens of thousands of employees got e-mails. If that's not bad enough, recipients of those e-mails started using the reply to all button to tell the sender of the message (which was really a noreply inbox) to remove them from the distribution list. Then people started using reply to all to tell others to stop using reply to all. This all happened on a Sunday morning. When I came in to work Monday morning, I had about 200 e-mails in my inbox. One of the e-mails said something along the lines of "You sons of bitches need to stop using the ****ing reply to all button"

Being such a large company, I have no idea who that guy was. But a couple days after this little incident, he was no longer in the company directory. If I were in charge, I'd fire the guy who started the e-mail chain and give that guy a promotion, because you know all he did was say what we were all thinking ;)
 

senseless

macrumors 68000
Apr 23, 2008
1,762
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Pennsylvania, USA
Sometimes I receive emails with legal disclaimers at the end. "This email is intended for the person or entity to which it was addressed", blah, blah. What are the practical reasons for this? It's kind of off-putting.