A common worry amongst people writing business letters is how they are supposed to open and close the letter formally and appropriately. This is an important thing to get right as it sets the tone for the rest of your letter. You need to decide on the correct salutation depending on the seriousness of the topic being addressed in your business letter and the relationship you have with the recipient.
Business Letter Opening Salutations
An opening to your business letter is compulsory, whether it is printed, online or sent by email. This opening salutation establishes the relationship you have with the recipient of the formal letter, therefore also indicating the formality of the rest of the letter to come. These are the main options you will choose from when writing your business letter format:
- Dear + title + full name: formal, when the person is known but you want to show respect and distance
- Dear + first name: semi-formal, when you know the person and have a close relationship
- Dear + title + last name: formal, when the recipient is not known personally but known of
- Dear + first name + last name: formal, when unsure about gender title
- Dear Sir or Madam: formal, only use this when unsure of who the letter is directed to
- Dear + job title/company name: semi-formal, impersonal, when the person is unknown, this is not recommended as you should try to be specific
- To Whom It May Concern: semi-formal, not recommended, only use if you have no way of finding out the recipient’s information
- Hi/Hello + name: informal, common in emails, only use when relationship if very personal, more appropriate in memos
Business Letter Closing Salutations
Just as the opening salutation sets the tone for the business letter, your closing remarks should try to finish everything off in a fitting manner. As with before, it will all depend on the formality of your letter purpose and the relationship with the recipient. These are just a few suggestions and should be followed by a comma, your signature and details:
- Yours sincerely: formal, respectful, when you know the name of the recipient
- Yours faithfully: formal, respectful, when you don’t know the name of the recipient
- Respectfully yours: formal, when you personally know the recipient
- Thank you: informal, when you have requested something or acknowledge help, usually if you know the person
- Best/Kind regards: informal, respectful, close relationship with recipient
- Lots of love: extremely informal, purpose of letter not serious, close relationship with the recipient
Business letter salutations are heavily dependent on your relationship with the recipient. Check out advice for writing a business letter for further information.
Also, look at some of our business letter samples for more ideas.
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