In business and in life, good communication is critical. But with so much of our daily interactions now taking place online, it’s more important than ever that you choose the right words.
If you want to make a strong first impression, you’ll want to start your work emails off right.
Review the best email introductions below to avoid any awkward blunders, then check out the best professional email sign-offs and 9 tips for getting better responses.
How to Start an Email Professionally
Below are 6 greetings you can use in your professional emails or workplace correspondence.
All are safe to use in most situations, but some are more formal than others, so use your judgment and consider your audience when deciding which greeting to use.
1. Hi [Name],
If you want an email greeting that’s a safe bet for virtually any situation, Hi [Name] should do the trick. It’s direct and friendly enough that it makes the message seem more personal.
Although it leans on the informal side, you can always make it a bit more formal by exchanging “Hi” with “Hello” (see #2 below) and using a prefix (Mr./Ms.) with the recipient’s last name.
2. Hello or Hello [Name],
“Hello” is usually the most appropriate greeting if you don’t know the recipient’s name (though you should make sure you’ve done all you can to find it).
“Hello” or “Hello [Name]” is one step above “Hi” on the formality ladder, but one lower than “Dear,” making this versatile greeting a happy medium for more professional correspondence.
3. Dear [Name],
“Dear” followed by the recipient’s name is the most appropriate greeting for formal business emails and cover letters.
If you’re going to use a prefix, it’s usually best to avoid those that imply a person’s marital status: stick with Mr./Ms. over Mrs./Miss, even if you think you know the recipient’s status.
4. Hi there,
“Hi there” is friendly and a bit more relaxed than “hello,” so it’s best to save these for your more informal work emails.
It can also be used if you really can’t find the recipient’s name, or if you already know the recipient and have contacted them before.
5. Hello all or Hi everyone
“Hello all” and “hi everyone” are both acceptable if you’re addressing a group of multiple recipients.
The former is usually more appropriate for formal situations, while the latter is more casual.
This is another good alternative if you don’t know your recipient’s name, though it also falls on the more formal end of the spectrum, so use it accordingly.
Email Intros to Avoid
Below are 5 email greetings that you should avoid in your professional emails, either for their informality or lack of personalization.
1. [No Greeting]
If this is your first email within a thread or conversation, you should absolutely be using some sort of introduction.
Failing to do so seems abrupt, impersonal, and stiff. Using a simple “hello” (even if you can’t find the recipient’s name anywhere after searching) will help you to come across as friendlier, thereby increasing your chances of getting a response.
2. To Whom It May Concern
As with cover letters and resumes, it’s always important to do what you can to find your recipient’s name, or at the very least their title/position.
“To whom it may concern” feels very impersonal, and if the recipient doesn’t feel that your message concerns them, then your email is likely to be ignored or sent to the trash.
3. Dear Sir or Dear Madam
Neither “Dear Sir” nor “Dear Madam” cover the fact that you don’t know your recipient’s name, so you might as well choose a greeting that’s less stuffy and awkward (and doesn’t make your recipient feel old as dirt).
Opt for “Hello [Name]” or “Dear [Name] if you do have a name for the recipient, and “Hello” or “Greetings” if you don’t.
4. [Misspelled Name]
Lots of people tend to get pretty peeved when their name is spelled (though I’m not one of them, since I’ve seen about 3,874 variations of my name since the 1st grade).
But it’s not just the fact that your recipient might be offended. If you managed to track down their name, you really have no excuses for spelling it incorrectly, so be sure to double check—lest you want to come across as careless or hasty.
5. Exclamation Points
Adding an exclamation point (or worse—points) after your greeting, like “Hi Mark!!” or “Hello Sam!!” can startle your recipient and make everything seem more urgent than it is (besides the fact that it’s obnoxious).
Of course, you might be particularly close with a colleague and have something exciting to tell them, in which case they might not mind a “Hi Matt!!” But you’ll have to be the judge on that one.
Start Your Message on the Right Note
When sending a professional email, you’ll need to start your message on the right note if you want to get a prompt reply.
Always consider your audience when deciding to opt for a more formal or informal greeting. While it might seem like a small detail, the right greeting can make a world of difference.
What’s your favorite email greeting? Share it with us in the comments below.