• 3-minute read
  • 27th March 2017

How to Write an E-mail: Salutations and Valedictions

Long gone are the days when all you needed was a quill and parchment to contact a work colleague. E-mail has now infiltrated all aspects of life, from university to the workplace.

It is thus vital that you know how to write appropriate salutations (i.e. openers) and valedictions (i.e. closers) in your e-mails.

Salutations (Hello!)

In an e-mail, a salutation is the opening greeting to the recipient. In informal messages, such as an e-mail to a friend or family member, the rules are much less rigid, something like ‘Hi there!’ or ‘Hello’ would usually suffice.

(Image: Peter Griffin)

However, in a formal e-mail, such as a job application, there are certain requirements. Typically, it’s best to start the e-mail with ‘Dear [Recipient’s Name]’ followed by a comma. The main body of your message then continues below (normally with a space in between).

Ideally, you’ll know the recipient’s preferred title (e.g. Mr, Mrs, Dr). However, if this is not possible, their full name can be used instead. For instance:

  • Dear Mrs Harvis,
  • Dear Professor Moseby,
  • Dear Susan McDuff,

If you don’t already know the name of the recipient, you can usually find the relevant information online.

However, some companies will ask you to use a contact form on its website, so you won’t be able to email an individual directly. In this case, you can address the recipient by their job title (e.g. Dear Hiring Manager’) or use something more generic (e.g. ‘Dear Sir/Madam’).

Valedictions (Goodbye!)

A valediction is the sign-off in your e-mail, which is usually followed by your name. As with salutations, informal e-mails do not require a great deal of thought when saying goodbye. ‘Take care!’, ‘Speak soon’ and ‘Love you lots’ are all perfectly acceptable (depending on how close you are to the recipient, of course).

However, formal e-mails require a little more consideration. One common expression used as a good all-round closer for formal e-mails is ‘Kind regards’:

Dear Mr Koons,

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Thank you kindly for getting in touch. Although we appreciate how it difficult it is to make balloon animals, we are not currently looking to fill the position of CEO.

Kind regards,

James Duffy

Jeff later went on to make a name for himself in the art world. (Image: Kim/flickr)
Jeff later went on to make a splash in the art world.
(Image: Kim/flickr)

In addition, there are a few more options for even more formal occasions:

  • ‘Yours respectfully,’– Used when the recipient holds a position of authority.
  • ‘Your sincerely,’ and ‘Yours truly,’ ­– Traditionally used in letters, although now considered a bit old-fashioned.
  • ‘Yours faithfully,’– Used when you don’t know the name of the recipient.

If you find yourself e-mailing a colleague you know personally, you should try to strike a balance between seeming professional and approachable.

A valediction like ‘Best wishes’ can be suitable here. Or if someone has done something for you, you might say ‘Thanks’ or ‘Warm thanks’.

In any situation, though, you need to consider the tone of the email and how well you know the recipient. But hopefully this blog post has given you a few ideas!

Kind regards,

The Proofed Team

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