What Is A Salutation? The Proper Way To Address Someone In An Email

Updated: December 19, 2021

The salutation in an email is the greeting that typically comes before the recipient’s name. It can be a formal or informal way to start your letter, and it can also include titles such as "Dear," "Hi," and "Hi, John," in addition to the recipient's name.

When deciding on which salutation to use in your email, keep in mind who you are writing to, what kind of relationship you have, and the level of formality you want your email to have. Here are some tips for using salutations correctly.

The Problem With Salutations

What is the problem with salutations? The problem is that the salutation is often too informal. It really makes your email seem like it was sent by your friend or acquaintance.

It’s not professional.

If you are writing to a business, then you should use a more formal salutation, such as "Dear Mr. Smith." If you are writing to a friend, then you can use a more informal salutation, such as "Hi John."

But it doesn't have to be one or the other. You can write to a friend using a formal salutation. Or you can write to a business using an informal salutation. It just depends on the kind of relationship you have with them.

So, if you want to make your email seem more professional, then use a formal salutation. But if you want to use an informal salutation, that's fine too. Just make sure that it's appropriate for the person you are writing to!

The Different Kinds of Salutations

There are four main kinds of salutations: formal, informal, "Dear sir or madam," and "Hi."

Formal salutations are typically reserved for business emails. They are often used when writing to people you don't know well, such as colleagues, bosses, or superiors. Formal salutations are also used when you want to sound professional or are writing in a professional setting.

Informal salutations are typically used in personal emails to friends, family members, and acquaintances. They are also used in emails written to people you know well.

"Dear sir or madam" is a formal salutation that is used when you don't know the name of the recipient. This is typically used in business or professional contexts.

"Hi" is an informal salutation that is used to start off friendly emails. It can be used in both personal and business contexts. Different ways of saying "Hi" include "Hey," "Hi," and "Hi, John."

How To Pick The Right Salutation

Choosing the right salutation can be tough, but it's all about picking what's right for your specific scenario.

If you’re writing to someone who is a close friend or family member, you might use "Hi." If you’re writing to someone who is your boss or someone who is higher up in the business hierarchy, you might want to use "Dear," "Dear Mr. John," or "Dear John." And if you're writing to someone in a business setting in which you don't know the person well, you might want to use "Dear Mr. or Mrs. John."

The salutation in an email can tell the recipient how formal or informal the email is going to be. Using "Hi" would be informal and using "Dear" would be more formal.

There are a few other ways to send a "Dear" email:

  • Dear [insert name] [insert title if applicable]
  • Dear [insert last name]
  • Hi, [insert name]!
  • Hi, [insert last name]!
  • Hi, John!
  • Hi, John Smith!
  • A letter best starts with Dear followed by somebody

  • When To Use The Formal “Dear”

    The formal "Dear" is typically used when you are writing to someone you don't know well, such as your professor or somebody you met at a networking event. You can also use it when you are not sure what form of address the person would prefer.

    If you are writing to someone you do know well, such as a friend or colleague, then the informal salutation is more appropriate. Informal salutations are also more appropriate if you want to soften the tone or create a more informal tone.

    When To Use “Hi”


    Hi, John

    Hi, John.

    Hi, John!

    Hi is typically used in emails between two people who are on a more casual basis. It is also used when you are writing to someone who is of the same age or younger than you.

    Hi, John is a more formal saluting phrase, often used in professional or personal emails. It is often used in emails to people with higher rank or position.

    Hi, John! is a more informal way to address someone in an email. It can be seen as more informal than "Hi," but more formal than "Hi, John."


    The salutation in an email is a crucial element of a successful business communication. The right salutation can be the difference between a well-crafted email and one that misses the mark. So, what should you do?

    First, consider who you are writing to. If you are writing to a customer, you might want the salutation to be something like "Hi, John" or "Hello, John." If you are writing to a colleague, you might want to use a more formal salutation such as "Dear John."

    When deciding which salutation to use, keep in mind the level of formality you want your email to have. When you are unsure about your desired level of formality, err on the side of being more formal. This will help you avoid any confusion or miscommunication with your email recipient.

    Include titles such as "Dear," "Hi," and "Hi, John" in addition to the recipient's name to show that you are making an effort to be respectful.

    At the end of your email, include an informal sign-off like "Best Regards" or "Sincerely." You can also include something like "Regards" if it is less formal.


    Personalize cold emails at scale without the hard work

    Personalize at Scale with Lyne.ai

    Lyne offers sales personalization and automation at scale