Because your email etiquette matters more than you think!
Daily digital correspondence should be simple. But are you getting it right?
We've all had that one coworker who says utterly cringey phrases like “Dream team,” “Goals,” and “Fri-yay.” Perhaps you have them on mute already. While that's the extreme end of the spectrum, it's all too easy to make silly little faux pas when communicating online.
Just take email salutations, for example. The way you start and end emails has a big impact on the reader. If you're not certain you know what to say, then you've come to the right place. In the following guide, we look at some professional examples and how to use them.
What is an email salutation?
Salutations are greetings and sign-offs that appear at the start and end of emails. For example, “Dear” is a greeting, while “Kind regards” is a sign-off.
Chances are, you have some tried and tested email salutations that you use on a daily basis. However, the words that you choose here have power. Different email salutations convey different messages to the reader about a) how professional you are, and b) what you believe the relationship between you and the reader to be. Heavy stuff, right?
Whether you're emailing a client, a colleague, or your boss, you need to make sure that you use the most appropriate email salutations for the situation.
Best email greetings to start things off
Faced with a blank email, you're ready to work your magic. When you're starting an email, you want to get off on the right foot with the reader. Luckily, there are some effective email salutations you can use, depending on who you're speaking to. If you're not sure where to start, we're here to help. Here are two of the best email greetings you can use.
If in doubt, this single word will rarely fail you. For most professional correspondence, you can rely on “Dear.” While this email salutation is slightly on the formal side, it won't offend anyone and shows a level of respect.
You should always pair “Dear” with the recipient's name. How you write the latter will depend on your relationship with them. For example, if you know them well or in person, you might want to use their first name, as in “Dear Mary.” On the other hand, if you don't know them too well or it's a formal setting, you can use their title and surname, as in “Dear Ms. Jones.”
“Hello” (or variations of it!)
If you want to strip back the formalities, you can use “Hello,” “Hi,” or even “Hey” (note that the latter should be saved for people that you're friendly with!). Once again, you want to pair this email salutation with the recipient's name. Go for their first name, as in “Hey Sam,” rather than their title and surname. There's just something off about writing “Hi Mr. Smith.”
When you're addressing a whole group - such as a department or a team - you can use the general “Hi everyone,” or “Hi team.” Try to steer clear of gendered language, such as “Hi guys.” The idea is to make everyone in the email chain feel included in the correspondence.
Best closing email salutations to use
When you've said all there is to say, it's time to sign-off. Choosing the right email salutation here can be rather tricky. Unlike the greetings category, there are more options to pick from - each conveying a different level of formality and relationship. Luckily, we have you covered. Let's take a look at the best closing email salutations and when to use them.
If the recipient has been particularly helpful or you're sending a thank you email, you may want to go with a standard “Thanks” sign-off. You can also use “Thanks in advance” (when you've asked them to do something) and “Many thanks” (when they've been super helpful). This is quite an informal email salutation, but it works in many professional settings.
If you're friendly with the recipient, you can use “Take care” when signing off. However, you need to proceed with caution here. This email salutation can sound a bit like your aunt signing your birthday card if you don't use it in the right scenario. If you're in regular contact with the recipient and you regularly meet them for coffee, you can use this one. This email salutation is for your colleagues who you would also consider friends.
Whether you go with “Best,” “Best wishes,” or “All the best,” this email salutation is polite and friendly. You can use it when you're speaking to a colleague or client, in most formal situations. However, if you're applying for a job or emailing a manager, you may want to up your professional game. As you will see, there are more formal email salutations out there.
“Kind regards” is the standard email salutation and can be paired with “Dear” to great effect. If you want to keep things formal yet friendly, you should use this when signing off. For example, you could use it when sending over a contract or applying for a new role. In short, this one conveys professional respect for the recipient and the scenario.
You can also use “Best regards” and “Warm regards” if you want to shake things up. As a general rule, though, you should avoid using the overly formal “Regards” email salutation. While it may seem like a safe bet, this one can come across as curt.
Your name or initials
Emailing the same person again and again? If you're tired of typing out an email salutation each time, you can use your name initials. For example, writing “Charlotte” or “CG” at the end of your email is polite. Be careful when using this salutation, as it may tell the reader that you're in a rush - especially if you combine it with a few choice typos.
Email salutations you should absolutely avoid
We've covered the email salutations that you might want to use, but what about the ones you should avoid? Using the wrong email salutation will send the wrong message to the reader. Let's take a look at some of the worst offenders and why you should avoid them.
- Howdy. You might think that this one sounds unique, but it's too informal.
- Heya. There's no need to add the “a” here. When you use this email salutation, it sounds immature and doesn't fit a workplace setting.
- S'up. It's not the early 2000s and you're not wearing a Scream mask.
- Greetings / salutations. This one is reminiscent of “Charlotte's Web”. So, unless you want to remind the reader of their favourite childhood book, give it a miss.
- Cheers. This email salutation may be widely popular, but it's rarely appropriate. If you want to go around “cheersing” everyone, wait until Happy Hour.
- Love. We've all been there… but accidentally signing a formal email with “Love” is embarrassing.
- Bye. This email salutation sounds final. Are you never going to email the recipient again? Are you done with them? If not, don't use this harsh-sounding sign-off.
- See ya. Will you be “seeing them?” Either way, writing this is too informal for a work setting and makes it sound like you're not taking the situation seriously.
- Peace. This is the type of email salutation people use when they are trying to be funny. But it doesn't quite land. Cut it out, please.
- Ty. The phrase “Thank you” is not particularly long or hard to type out. You don't need to shorten it. The same goes for “Thx” or “Ta” here.
The above email salutations may fit the bill when you're messaging a friend or someone you know well. However, in most workplaces, they simply won't fly. While you may harbour an urge to be creative with your correspondence, it's always safer to stick to formal language.
Bonus: Should you use funny email salutations?
Most of the time, the answer is a hard “no.” Using funny email salutations will make you stand out from the crowd, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Signing off your next email with “Hasta la vista, baby” or “Stay classy” is quirky, for sure. But unless you are absolutely sure that the recipient will be in on the joke, you should leave it out entirely.
Speak the reader's language
Whenever you're choosing the right email salutations, consider the reader. What message do you want to convey to them? What type of language do they use? Refer to this guide for inspiration when drafting your next email. And remember, if you're at all unsure, play it safe.
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