35 Salutations to Use (Salutations List) [2020 Updated]


Looking for salutations to use in a business letter, email, cover letter or some other type of professional use case? Then look no further. This list of salutations will help you come up with the right start to your message.

In this write up you’re going to learn:

Ready? Let’s go ahead and jump right in!

What Are Salutations?

According to Webster's Dictionary, a salutation is "an expression of greeting, goodwill, or courtesy by word, gesture, or ceremony"

In essence, salutations are the greetings that are used when you begin an email, a legal letter, a business letter or any other kind of professional letter.

Salutations are often confused as the closing statement that is made when you are trying to end your letter. For example, saying, “Thank you very much”

That is a closing statement or sign-off. That is not actually a salutation, but is often confused as one by many professionals.

When thinking about what a salutation is, remember that it is the greeting you use and the first statement that is read by the person you’re referring to.

salutation example

Formal and Traditional Salutations List

If you don’t know which salutation to use, at all costs reference someone as “Mr. [Last Name]” or “Ms. [Last Name]”. For example, if you were addressing Marty Smith, then you would put your salutation as Mr. Smith.

By referring to someone by this format, it is the most formal and most widely accepted. Meaning, if you don’t know whether or not your business scenario requires a certain salutation, use that one.

Informal Salutations List

When using informal salutations, be sure that you are only using a salutation that is for close friends, family members, or colleagues that you have a great relationship with.

And be sure that you use a salutation that is proper to the body of the message. For example, if you’re sending an email regarding updates on a project and you have something good to share, then you may want to consider using “Good news”.

If you choose salutations which aren’t applicable to the message you’re sending, you could risk the reader feeling as though they shouldn’t respect or listen to what you’re about to say.

Salutations for Cover Letters

Salutations for Emails

Related: 50 Ways to Start a Professional Email (By Scenario)

Salutations for Business Letters and Legal Letters

Bad Salutations List (Avoid These Salutations)

Try to avoid using some of these salutation examples as it won’t make you sound professional. Additionally, it could risk the message you’ll be sending and the impact it could have on the reader.

Match Your Business Scenario with the Salutation

Remember to think about what your business scenario is. Are you sending an informal email to someone you know personally? If so, then you might be able to pick one of the informal greetings. Are you sending a legal letter to someone you don’t know? Then avoid informal greetings.

The more you can understand the context of your message, the easier it will be to choose the proper greeting.

If you don’t know which greeting to use, remember that you can always back up to using the most formal options. Those are:

Why are Salutations Important?

Salutations or greetings when starting an email, business letter, legal letter, cover letter, or professional letter can set the tone for the message. It informs the reader that the message is either going to be formal and professional (or serious). Or informal.

If you choose the wrong salutation, it might be sending mixed signals to the reader. For example, if your letter is intended to be serious but you use an informal greeting, you might expect to get an informal response. Which may not have been your intention from the start.

This is the equivalent of using body language in written format.

Common FAQ's

Below are common questions asked by professionals regarding salutations.

Can I use these salutations for a business email or as email salutations for a business setting?

Absolutely. That is the proper way of using the lists above. They are best for correspondence with someone on a professional level.

What about the salutation "dear sir or madam"?

The salutation "dear sir or madam" is often used in cover letters as an alternative to mentioning the hiring manager by name directly. Though, it is not recommended as it is very ineffective at creating a connection between yourself and the hiring manager. Instead, use a proper salutation from the list above.

What if the correspondence is an information situation?

Then it would be okay to use an informal salutation like "hey all".

What is the intention of the letter is to have a more formal correspondence? How do I address the email or address the letter?

You should use their last name. Like the following: Dear Mr. Smith —

Why is the salutation so important?

It is what sets the tone of an email or formal letter. It lets the reader know that they are about to conduct more formal business or informal business.

What is a closing salutation?

This is often confused with a salutation. A closing salutation would be "thank you" or "thank you very much" as an example. It may be how you would end business correspondence in a letter or email. This is more frequently referred to as a closing phrase. And not what is used when addressing a business message.

What's the difference between formal and informal?

Formal is a letter to your boss. Informal is a letter to your loved one.

Why is "sir or madam" as a salutation one of the bad email salutations to use?

Because it lacks personality and your message sounds like it could be SPAM. Have personality!

Are salutations in emails optional?

It depends on how well you know the recipient. But if you have a good connection with them and you are sending an email to them directly, then you may not require the need to be addressing the reader directly.

Should I be using exclamation points in my salutation?

This is only recommended for informal correspondence and not professional correspondence. It is entirely optional and up to you. Though, if you are writing a professional note, you should use an em dash as a way to trail your salutation and lead into your message.

Why is using the salutation "dear sir" a bad one?

It is often used by spammers and isn't really a formal salutation or business salutation that you would expect as a person who is reading a business email or letter.

Should I use a salutation in a personal letter?

Absolutely. Something like, "Dear Mr Smith" is a correct salutation and better than "Dear Sir or Madam" for example.

What about business letter closings?

See our guide on how to end a letter, which will show you letter closing examples for professional or personal use.

What are the most common salutations?

What are the most common business salutations or business email salutations?

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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