Email greetings: The best formal and informal email openings

As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. And when it comes to writing an email, your email greeting can affect the way the recipient views you – and even whether or not they read your message.
Today we share email openings that you can use in professional emails or informal messages.

Best email salutations

Sometimes it can be hard to choose the best salutation for your email. Here are five examples that are almost always appropriate:

  1. Hi (first name) - When it comes to an email greeting, it’s hard to beat “Hi (first name)”. It’s suitable for any situation where you know and use the recipient’s first name. If you’re addressing the recipient with Mr./Ms. + last name, however, choose one of the more formal options below instead. And remember that “Hi there!” is strictly for informal emails.
  2. Hello (name) - Another universally acceptable salutation, “Hello (name)” is considered slightly more formal than “Hi” and can be used either with a first name or Mr./Ms. + last name.
  3. Dear (name) - “Dear (name)” is appropriate for all formal emails, but has a slightly old-fashioned feel that makes it less suitable for informal messages.
  4. Greetings - This is a common and polite salutation for an email sent to a group – or a single recipient when you are not sure how to spell their name.
  5. Good morning / afternoon / evening - This is another polite way to open an email to a group of people, or it can be personalized by adding the name of an individual recipient.

Pro tip: Avoid these mistakes in your email salutation

Although it might seem like not a lot could go wrong in a short opener, here are some common mistakes to steer clear of in your email opening greetings:

  • If you are using a person’s name in your salutation, always make sure you have spelled it correctly!

  • If you are not sure of your recipient’s gender, avoid using the Mr. or Ms. honorific + last name. Use their full name instead. “Dear Sir or Madam” is also no longer considered a gender-inclusive option.

  • While technically correct, “To whom it may concern” is considered impersonal and overly formal by many people today. Rather than risk putting them off, play it safe by using one of the formal greetings listed above instead.

  • Email salutations should be punctuated with a comma, not an exclamation mark or period.

Professional email starters

Once you’ve chosen a salutation, it’s time to start your message. In a professional email, you may want to start with a polite statement of goodwill before jumping to the reason for your message.

  • I hope this email finds you well.

  • I hope your week is going smoothly.

  • I hope you had a nice weekend. 

Note that all of these starters are phrased as well-wishes rather than questions – asking “How was your weekend?” can feel intrusive. But if you know the person and they told you they were going on vacation, for example, you could lead with “How was your vacation?” or a similar polite question.
Now move to the reason for your email. Be sure to keep things concise – this shows you respect your recipient’s time. These phrases can help you introduce the core content of your message

  • I’m reaching out to you because…

  • I’m emailing you to…

  • I’m hoping to get your input on…

  • I’m writing to inform you…

Informal email examples

If you are writing to a colleague you know well, it’s perfectly fine to start with a “Hi there” or “Hey, it’s me again!” It can be nice to give your email a personal touch – you can start by congratulating them on a recent accomplishment or ask about a project they’ve been working on. It’s also okay to inject a mild touch of humor in your email opener:

  • Hopefully you’ve had your coffee!
  • You may want to sit down before reading this.
  • I’ll keep this short, I promise!
  • Hope you’re surviving the workweek.

Just keep in mind the golden rule of workplace emailing: You never know who an email could be forwarded to, so be sure to keep any humor appropriate.

Man with grey hair looks at laptop in home office with white furnishings
Stuck for the perfect email opening? Try one of the starters in our guide!

How to start an email response

If you’ve received a reply to your email and need to send a response, take a look at how the person signed off on their message. For example, if you sent an email to “Dear Ms. Smith” but she signed her response as “Jackie”, follow her lead and start your response with “Hello Jackie”.  In a professional context, it’s also considered good form to begin a response with some appreciation:

  • Thanks for your help.

  • I appreciate the update.

  • Thank you for your quick response.

  • It’s great to hear from you.

Professional openings for follow-up emails

Sometimes you have to reach out to a person for a second time – if you have new information to provide, for example, or if you have not received a response. Here are some phrases to get you started:

  • I wanted to follow-up with you about …

  • As mentioned in my email / in our last meeting / in our phone call …

  • I’m checking in on...

  • Can you provide me with an update on…

  • As promised, I’m sending…

We hope our email greetings will help you next time you’re staring at a blank screen! We look forward to your feedback below.
Images: 1&1/Shutterstock

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