The salutation is an important part of a letter. The choice of the right salutation depends on whether you know the person you are writing to and how formal your relationship is.
Very formal (for official business letters)
|To Whom It May Concern:||Use only when you do not know to whom you must address the letter, for example, when writing to an institution.|
|Dear Sir/Madam,||Use when writing to a position without having a named contact.|
|Dear Mr Smith,||Use when you have a named male contact.|
|Dear Ms Smith,||Use when you have a named female contact; do not use the old-fashioned Mrs.|
|Dear Dr Smith,||Use when writing to a named doctor.|
|Dear Prof Smith,||Use when writing to a named professor.|
|Dear Xu Li,||Type the whole name when you are unsure of the recipient’s gender.|
Less formal but still professional (business letters)
|Dear colleagues,||Use when writing to a group of people.|
|Dear Mary,||Use when writing to a named female.|
|Dear John,||Use when writing to a named male.|
Informal (personal letters)
These salutations should be used with people you are close to, as they might offend others.
|Hello guys,||Use when writing to a group of people you know very well.|
|Hi,||Use when writing to one or more people you know very well.|
- There should be a comma after the salutation and a colon after “To Whom It May Concern”.
- No full stop is needed after Mr, Ms, and Dr.
- The form Mrs is outdated.
- Avoid the exclamation (!) in salutations.
Starting your letter
There two ways in which business letters usually start: they make reference to a previous contact, for example, phone conversation, meeting, previous mail correspondence; or they are the first contact with the recipient.
Making reference to previous contact
I am (we are writing) regarding
- your inquiry about …
- our phone conversation …
In reply to your request …Thank you for contacting us.
Contacting the recipient for the first time
I am (we are) writing to
- inform you that …
- confirm …
- enquire about …
- complain about …
I am contacting you for the following reason.I recently heard about … and would like to …
Making a request
We would appreciate it if you would …I would be grateful if you could …Could you please send me …Could you possibly tell us …
It would be helpful if you could send us …
Giving good news
We are pleased to announce that … I am delighted to inform you that …
Giving bad news
We regret to inform you that … I’m afraid it would not be possible to … Unfortunately we are unable to … After careful consideration we have decided …
Ending your letter
Please find enclosed (for letters)Please find attached (for emails)
Offering future assistance
If you require more information, please let us know.Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any further assistance.
Referring to future contact
I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.We are looking forward to meeting you on 21 January/in Tromsø.We would appreciate your reply at your earliest convenience.
The closing salutation must match the opening salutation and the overall tone of the letter. Choose one of the following closing lines depending on the formality of the salutation.
|Your sincerely, Sincerely yours, Respectfully,||Use when you’ve started with Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom It May Concern.|
|Sincerely,||Use when you’ve started with Dear + name.|
Less formal but still professional
|Kind regards, Warm regards, Regards,||not too formal but businesslike|
|Best wishes,||even less formal|
|Best, Hugs, Cheers,||Use with friends and colleagues you feel close to.|
Your Home Address and the Date
If your stationery does not include your printed address, place it in the upper right-hand corner of the first page. Follow one or two lines below with the date. If your address is already printed, the date is placed in the upper right-hand corner of the first page.
The Body of the Letter
The best letters will share news and information, mix good with bad news, respond to the questions asked or news shared in a previous letter, and ask about the recipient. Include only information you would be happy for others to see. It is more likely that a mailed letter will stay private; e-mailed ones can easily be forwarded inadvertently or intentionally.
Letters Best Left Unwritten
- Woe-is-me: A letter full of misfortune and unhappiness won’t give your reader pleasure and will leave him or her worried or depressed.
- Tell-all: There’s nothing wrong with pouring your heart out in a letter, but providing too many intimate details could eventually lead to embarrassment.
- Gossip: It’s wrong to tell everything you know about someone’s trials and tribulations, so check your impulse to share.
- Anger: Bitter spoken words fade away, but written words stay on a page forever. Put a letter written in anger aside before sending it. Go back later and maybe you’ll soften the tone or decide not to send it.
Ending a Letter
End a letter with something positive and if you can, wind up the letter with something your correspondent can relate to.
The Complimentary Close
- The preferred ending to formal social or business correspondence is “Sincerely,” “Sincerely yours,” “Very sincerely,” or “Very sincerely yours.”
- “Kind(est) regards,” and “Warm(est) regards” fill a nice gap between formal and more intimate closings.
- In friendly notes, the most frequently used closings are “Cordially,” “Affectionately,” “Fondly,” and “Love.”
- “Gratefully” is used only when a benefit has been received, as when a friend has done you a favor.
- “As always” or “As ever” is useful in closing a letter to someone with whom you may not be close or haven’t seen for some time.
- Sign with your first and last name if you’re writing to someone you’ve never met face to face.
- Put your last name in parentheses if you’ve only spoken with the person on the phone.
- Use your first name or nickname on letters to friends or business associates who know you.
Examples of Cover Letter Closing Statements
Following are some examples of cover letter closings, ranging from succinct to a little more elaborate:
Thank you for considering my candidacy. I look forward to hearing from you.
I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss my candidacy. Thank you for your time and consideration.
I am confident I can exceed your expectations. I hope we can meet so that I can convey my interest in this position in person.
I recognize the limitations that written words can pose and would like to convey my interest to meet with you in person.
I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and members of your team. I will be flying to (city) next week and should be available from (day) to (day). Thank you for considering my candidacy. I look forward to hearing from you.
If you have questions about my candidacy, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you in person to discuss my qualifications and answer any questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you.
I would welcome a personal interview at your convenience to tell you more about my qualifications, as well as what I can do for (company name). I have enclosed my resume which further details my professional achievements. I look forward to speaking with you.
Knowing that my resume cannot convey all that I have to offer, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to further discuss my qualifications. Thank you for your time and consideration.
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Hopefully, you will find the above examples of closing statements helpful. If you want to read more about this, you can check the Purdue Online Writing Lab. Now, if you are looking for examples of cover letter opening statements or tips on how to write a good opening statement, following are some articles on topic:
by John Sylo