The Best Examples Of Business Letter Salutations

By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: June 17, 2020
The Best Examples Of Business Letter Salutations

Business letters are vital, and they are effective ways to communicate with your colleagues, employees and associates. More importantly, it sets a good precedent when communicating with current or potential clients. No matter why you write a business letter, you need to address it to the concerned person with the right salutation. This means how you sign off at the end of your letter. The salutation you use at the beginning of your business letter introduces the tone of your letter and shows your professional caliber. Writing the right salutation is significant, as it shows that you spent time in crafting your letter and you are serious about its content. In this oneHOWTO article, you will show you some of the best examples of business letter salutations.

If You Know The Contact Person’s Name

If you know the name of the person whom you want to send the letter, then you should typically sign off with their last name, preceded by a 'Mr.' or 'Ms.' As a general rule, you should avoid addressing a lady with a 'Miss' or 'Mrs.', unless you are sure how she wants to be addressed in this manner. If you are not sure, always sign off to a woman with 'Ms.'.

If the person you are writing to has a medical or doctoral degree, then use 'Dr.' as an abbreviated form. However, use full titles for 'Professor', 'Rabbi', 'Judge' and other titles. For instance, if you are sending the letter to a judge, then start the salutation with 'Dear Judge Williams'. But if your recipient is a rabbi, then address him like 'Dear Rabbi Barnard'.

If you are addressing your business letter to more than a single person, then you should write the name of each person separately, splitting them with commas. For instance, 'Dear Mr. Luxe, Ms. Hopman and Ms. Smith'. If they are a married couple, and if one partner has changed name, then you can mention the last name only once. For instance, 'Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hobbes'.

Sometimes, you may not get idea of an individual’s gender from their name alone, such as Blake, Daniel or Burt. Other times a name may belong to either a woman or man. In this case, you should try searching the internet or visit the company website to determine the gender of the concerned person. But if you still can’t find out the person’s gender, you should simply write the full name of the person, and skip the title, instead using only 'Dear'. For instance, 'Dear Avery Jones'.

Note that your audience can be difficult to appropriately address. Some people may have a specific way they prefer to be addressed, but it might also be difficult to know what this way is without asking them first (a catch-22 since you can't ask them without addressing them first). Identity politics are in somewhat of a state of upheaval, but respectful people will understand if you are being respectful yourself.

One specific salutation, however, which should no longer be used is the once common practice of using a man's name for both parties in a married relationship, e.g. 'Dear Mr. and Mrs. David Rosen'. This to many is a little outdated and can show disrespect to many women[1]. It is a reductive term which reduces a woman's agency.

If You Don’t Know the Contact Person’s Name

Sometimes, you write a business letter to someone whose name you don’t know. For instance, you are sending a job application letter or you are inquiring about new business. In these cases, you don’t know with whom you have to speak directly. In such a situation, you have to write a salutation with a generic greeting. Examples of such salutations are ‘To Whom It May Concern’ and ‘Dear Sir or Madam’.

If you don’t know the name of the recipient, you may be tempted to start your letter with an informal salutation, like ‘Hello’, ‘Hi There’, ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Greetings’. While such salutations may be fine for a casual letter, it is common to make it formal for a business letter. If you know the job title of the contact person, you may use it, such as 'Dear Sales Manager'.

If you don’t know the job title of the concerned person, you can just skip the salutation and begin writing the letter. But that’s the last step. You should first of all try to find out the name or job title of the recipient. If you are sending a job application and the name of the hiring manager is not mentioned in the job listing, then you can browse through the company’s website and look for the hiring manager’s title or name. If the job listing has a contact number, you may call that number and ask for the name of the hiring manager. While sending a business letter for some other purpose, you can still find the contact person’s name on the company’s website or ask over the phone.

If You Are Writing A Business Letter To A Familiar Person

You don’t always use formal salutations while writing a business letter. If you are writing to a well-known colleague or coworker, you may use an informal greeting instead. With this kind of business letter, you may simply start the letter with first name, such as ‘Dear Mike’. This kind of salutation will strike a respectful yet friendly and warm tone. ‘Hi’ can work well when you are writing to someone you know personally, but you need to personalize and show the appropriate level of respect and affection to your recipient’s name.

The Best Examples Of Business Letter Salutations - If You Are Writing A Business Letter To A Familiar Person

Use of ‘Dear’ in Business Letters

While writing a business letter, you may feel using ‘Dear’ as too trite and obsolete. However, ‘Dear’ is perhaps the most appropriate salutation you may use in a business letter. You may personalize it by mentioning the most honorable title of the recipient, such as 'Professor', 'Min.', 'Dr.', 'Ms.', etc. If you are not sure of the recipient’s gender, you may skip the title and address as ‘Dear Peter Smith’. If you are writing to a colleague or a person you are very familiar with, then a simple ‘Hello’ followed by the first name will suffice. But before writing such letter, check your employees’ handbook and make sure that there are no specific rules of communication that you need to follow.

Use of ‘To Whom It May Concern’

'To whom it may concern' is a commonly used phrase in different types of business correspondence. You use it when you don’t know the specific person to address your letter to. While you are applying for a job or making an enquiry, you may use this phrase, as you have no idea who is heading the department concerned. However, you should first make all efforts to find the appropriate person’s name or title. You may find this by browsing through the company’s website, visiting their social media pages or calling their customer care number.

Other Tips to Use Proper Salutations in Business Letters

  • The proper way to include salutation in a business letter is to write 'Dear', then the title of the recipient, then person’s name, followed by a comma, e.g. 'Dear Ms. Paige,'.
  • Social business letter is one that is personal or social rather than focused on business. For instance, a letter of condolence, congratulations or thank you. The proper way to include salutations in a social business letter is to write 'Dear', then the title of the person, then the name and then a comma, like 'Dear Ms. Amalia Jans,'.
  • If your relationship with the recipient is formal, or if you don’t know the recipient very well, then it's advised to use the title and the person’s last name, following by 'Dear', such as 'Dear Mr. Ossman'. Otherwise, write first name of the person, such as Dear Drenda
  • Never write full spellings of 'Ms.', 'Ms.', 'Mrs.' and 'Dr.'. However, you can spell out titles like 'Senator', 'Captain', 'Judge', 'Professor', 'Rabbi', 'Sister', etc.
  • You may also start your letter with a 'Good Morning' or 'Good Day', no matter at what time of the day the recipient receives or reads the letter.

If you want to read similar articles to The Best Examples Of Business Letter Salutations, we recommend you visit our Learning category.


1. Arden. (2011). Is it time to update the etiquette for addressing a married woman?

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