How To Start A Formal Email: Professional Examples


How to start a formal email: 11 Greeting and opening line examples

Starting a professional email on the right note is essential for effective business communication. When writing a formal business letter in a professional or academic context, you need to follow a certain letter structure. Moreover, it is essential to choose an appropriate formal greeting depending on your relationship with the recipient.

A good email greeting and opening sentence can help you reach your professional goals, improve business relationships, and prompt the recipient to respond to you. In this guide, you will find examples of salutations for professional emails and opening lines for different professional contexts.

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5 strong greetings for a professional email

1. Dear [Name]

This salutation is a little old-fashioned, yet perfectly acceptable for a formal email. If you haven't interacted with the person before, you can use their full name, for example, Dear Jack Evans. Otherwise, use their first name only.

Another variation of this salutation is addressing the recipient by their title and last name (such as Dear Dr. Brown or Dear Mr. Johnson). This greeting style works well if you are writing to a university professor or an organization with a formal culture.

2. Hello [Name]

Hello is a neutral greeting that you can use both in informal letters and in business emails when you don't need to emphasize formality. You can use it in emails with people you communicate with regularly, both within your organization and outside it. It lets you get straight to the point.

This salutation might not be the best idea if you're contacting someone for the first time, as some may decide that it doesn't convey respect.

3. Dear [Job title]

When writing an email to someone you haven't met and you don't know their name, it is acceptable to use the person's title as a salutation. Examples: Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Marketing Director. This reads as a formal greeting, so you will not hit the wrong tone.

However, only use such salutations in a formal letter when you have no other choice. For example, when you are applying for a job and cannot find the hiring manager's name on the company's website or LinkedIn. In other situations, use the person's name in your email greeting.

4. Hi [Name]

This is a perfect informal greeting you can use with coworkers. When you interact with someone daily and your company has an informal culture, you needn't maintain a high level of formality in your business communications. So, starting an email with Hi Sarah is acceptable in most of today's professional contexts.

Keep in mind that Hi is informal and not appropriate in some situations. For example, if you are writing a formal email when applying for a job or contacting a prospective corporate client, you might want to use a more formal salutation.

5. Greetings

Greetings is a great opening when you are writing to three or more recipients. It is considered professional and polite, so you can use it in an email to your department and in more formal letters. Another good example of a salutation for a group email is Good morning.

It is also acceptable to use Greetings when you don't remember the person's name or are not sure how to spell it correctly.

6 opening lines for formal emails

Your opening lines matter - in just a few words, you need to capture the attention of your reader and quickly explain the purpose of your email. Here are some good examples of opening sentences for a formal email:

1. Thank you for...

When you are replying to someone's email, thanking the person for their contribution is the best way to start your letter. Here's an example:

Thanks for your help with the last week's marketing report.

In a professional context, it is considered a good tone to show appreciation. Plus, it helps you build rapport immediately and leaves a positive impression.

After such a salutation, you can touch upon the situation associated with your gratitude, or move on to the new topic in your letter.

2. How have you been?

Starting your email with a polite statement is a good tone. Before you get down to the reason for your letter, it's a good idea to add a personal touch and ask the recipient how is their work going or how was their weekend. If your coworker went on a business trip, you also may ask How are things in New York?

Such an opening is not very formal, it is not the best idea to use it with someone you don't know in person.

3. It's great to hear from you.

This is another example of how to start an email response. After it, you can get straight to the point without wasting the reader's time. It is also suitable for a quick response - you can get down to business after this line immediately.

This example works well in both informal and formal letters. However, avoid using it with someone you haven't interacted with before.

4. I'm reaching out to you...

This opening line is the most straightforward one. It maintains a professional tone and allows you to start discussing the main reason for your letter without long salutations. Examples:

I'm reaching out to you to discuss the updates to the financial report.

I'm reaching out about the Software Engineer position advertised on the XYZ website.

5. Hope this email finds you well.

This is a neutral opening line, so you can use it in many contexts. When you are writing emails to someone you've talked to once or twice, asking How was your week? might sound too intrusive. Wishing well without touching upon any specific topic is a good way to start an email in this situation.

6. We met at...

If you are reaching out to a person you've recently met, use this opening line to remind about yourself:

We met at Content Marketing World last week.

If you have a mutual connection with the recipient, you may mention their name and explain why you are writing to them.

How do you start a professional email to an unknown person?

Writing a formal email to someone you haven't met is confusing. The most important thing here is to show respect and use the rules of business correspondence, as bad email etiquette can turn off the recipient.

If you know the person's name, use it in a salutation, for example, Dear Karen Anderson. Otherwise, write Hello or a title: Dear Customer Support Manager.

Avoid asking questions or using an informal tone. Use a neutral and formal opening line. Introduce yourself and briefly explain your reason for writing. For example:

I am Mike Peterson from ABC company. I am reaching out to you...

6 Tips for writing professional emails effectively

Craft an informative subject line

A subject line is the first thing the recipient will see on their computer screen, and it often determines whether they will open your letter whatsoever. So, take your time to craft an informative line that communicates the reason why you are writing. Here are good examples:

Job application for Marketing Strategist position

Final updates on the ABC project

Avoid impersonal greetings

Greetings like Dear Sir or Madam and To whom it may concern are out of date. Moreover, they are impersonal and show that you do not care much about who will be reading your letter. If you don't know the recipient's name, use a job title.

Use the same style in your salutation and letter body

Maintain the same level of formality throughout your email. If you have started a letter with Dear [person's name], do not use an informal opening line like What's up? or How are your kids? and do not use slang.

Double check the grammar and spelling

Emails with mistakes communicate a lack of attention to detail and show poor writing skills. Moreover, a misspelled name of the recipient can spoil your communication. This is not the impression you'd like to make. So, take the time to correct spelling and grammar, or use online tools to proofread your email texts as you write them.

Use a professional email address

Your recipient might be suspicious of your letters if you use an email address like Create a professional email address that has your first and last name in it, or use a corporate address.

Add a professional closing

Business letters should have a proper closing. When you start an email with Hello or Good afternoon, it will look confusing if you end it with Cheers. Use a professional closing in your letter:

  • Sincerely,
  • Regards,
  • Respectfully, (most formal)
  • Kind regards,
  • Best, (most informal).

Dear Hiring Manager: How to start a cover letter

A well-written cover letter can engage the hiring manager from the first sentence and present you in a positive light as a candidate. To create the right impression from the very beginning, make sure to start your letter strong:

Use a personalized salutation. Addressing the hiring manager by their name (such as Dear Lena Brown) is best. If you cannot find the name, use Dear Hiring Manager as a greeting.

Start the first paragraph professionally. Here are the best examples of email openings for a cover letter:

  • Traditional opening: In most situations, a standard email opening line works best as it shows your knowledge of business etiquette and doesn't distract the recipient from the letter's content. Example: I am writing to apply for a Marketing Associate position as advertised at...
  • Emphasize a mutual connection: If your friend or a former coworker referred you to the job, include this early in your letter. Candidates who have connections within the company usually get more attention from the hiring manager, and you'll get a competitive edge over other candidates. Example: My friend and former coworker, Marie Garcia, recommended me to apply for the position of..
  • Lead with an accomplishment: To catch the reader's attention, bring up your biggest accomplishment in the first sentence. Thus, you will compel them to read the letter from top to bottom. Example: In the last six months, I doubled online sales for XYZ company through effective content marketing strategy...
  • Get creative: You might want to write about your fascination with the industry, profession, or use some humor. Example: I have wanted to become a writer since...

Keep it professional. Remember that a cover letter is a formal email, so restrain yourself from slang, conversational language, and jargon.

Need help with formal email writing?

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