Sometimes it’s hard to know how to start or end a business email or letter.
Should you be fairly informal or use a more formal (and polite) salutation? And what about "Yours sincerely", "Yours faithfully", "Best wishes" etc? When do you use them and are there set rules?
Well, there are certain rules to follow when beginning and ending a letter and formal emails, especially when writing for business matters.
While it is okay to write "Hi John" or "Hello Sue" to certain colleagues and end your correspondence with "'Bye for now", "Regards" or simply your name, for more formal situations it is best to following the rules set out below:
• When you don’t know the name of the person you are writing to use "Dear Sir" (for a man) or "Dear Madam" (for a woman). Sometimes, you don’t even know the gender of the recipient of your letter. In this case use "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Sir or Madam".
• Each of the above salutations, because you have not used a name, must end with "Yours faithfully".
• If you know the name of the person you are writing to, for instance, “Dear Mr Brown”, then you can end the letter with "Yours sincerely", "Best wishes", "Kind regards" etc.
Thanks to emails, the way the language is used in business has changed. It is now acceptable to use semi-formal or informal greetings and endings. It is likely that most people never use "Dear sir" or "Yours faithfully" in an email. It is seen as rather old-fashioned and overly formal.
However, it is still good to understand the rules, because you never know – one day you just might need to write a formal but very important correspondence.
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