What is a Letter Salutation? (Definition and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 1 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Using the correct salutation when writing a letter shows you are respectful and professional. A salutation appears at the beginning of a letter to show to whom the letter addresses. You may use a salutation in both formal and informal letters, and learning more about this concept could help you write effective professional letters. In this article, we discuss what a letter salutation is, show how to write one, provide examples and explain the importance of using salutation in letter writing.

What is a letter salutation?

A letter salutation is a statement written at the beginning of a letter showing who the letter addresses. Salutations may vary depending on the type of letter you are writing. When writing a formal letter, a salutation is usually professional and grammatically correct. Writing an informal letter to a friend, you may use a more casual salutation or greeting.

You may place a salutation at the beginning of the letter. It can introduce the letter and capture the attention of the recipient. Choosing the right salutation to use in any letter is very crucial because it enables the receiver to know whether the letter is formal or informal. Below are examples of a salutation you may use in a letter:

  • Dear Sir or Madam

  • Hello

  • Greetings

  • To Whom It May Concern

  • Dear Mr./Ms.

  • Hi

  • Hey

Related: How to Address a Letter

What is a formal salutation?

This is a salutation used in formal letters, for example, in cover letters for job applications or when writing a letter to your manager concerning your job. You may write the salutation followed by the name of the person the letter addresses or the position they hold in an organisation. Here are the common examples of formal salutation:

Dear

You may use Dear in writing new or follow-up letters, cover letters and resignation letters. It is one of the most commonly used salutations. Any person can use it regardless of the title they hold or the person they are addressing the letter. For example, a candidate may use it in writing an application letter and a manager may use it when writing a letter to the candidate.

Greetings

You can use greetings when sending a letter to people you might not know or to those you have a casual relationship with. Sometimes it's used similarly to Hello or Hi. You can use this salutation in letters sent between departments.

To whom it may concern

You can use this salutation when writing a letter to someone you don't know and have no information about. For example, when applying for a job at a company that you don't have more information about or don't know the person in charge of recruitment. It may also inquire about a job. Reference letters commonly use this salutation since they are not sure where the candidate would apply for a job.

Related: When and How to Use the Phrase 'To Whom It May Concern'

What is an informal opening salutation?

You can apply informal salutations when writing informal letters to friends, close family members or anyone with whom you have a close relationship with. You may choose to use any salutation below in an informal letter. The following are some commonly used informal salutations that you can use:

Hello

You can use this when writing a letter to the person you have a professional relationship with. For example, you may use it when a letter writing a letter to a colleague in your department. You can also use it in writing appreciation letters.

Hi

This type of salutation is always friendly, direct and straightforward. This email salutation is the best in all but the most formal situations. For example, you can use it when writing a congratulatory message to your colleague. It is the most commonly used informal greeting.

Good morning or good afternoon

This is an informal salutation, but you can use it in formal places like offices. For example, you may use this to address a group of employees in a department. The senior management may only use the salutation to address their juniors, but the juniors can not use it when addressing their seniors.

Related: How to Start a Letter: Professional Tips and Examples

Tips for writing a salutation

Below are some tips for choosing a salutation:

  • Consider using the salutation Dear followed by the recipient's name in a business letter, as this is most common.

  • If you are not sure about the gender of the person to whom you are writing, you may use Dear Sir/ Madam.

  • If you don't know the person's name, you may use the title of the position they hold. For example, Dear Manager or Dear Principal.

  • When writing a letter to a known company, you may use the company name. For example, Dear Tregcom Limited.

  • When you know the person or have a formal relationship with them, use their last name when addressing the letter. For example, if the letter is to someone named Grace Mane, you can write the salutation as Dear Ms Mane.

Related: How to End a Letter

When to use the salutation

The following are instances where you could use salutations:

Job application letter

An application letter is an example of a formal letter. Writing a good application letter with the correct salutation and tone may impress the person who may receive the letter. It may also show respect and professionalism.

Related: How to Write an Application Letter (With Tips, Template and Example)

Memo

In most organisations, the management or departments leaders write memos to address employees in an organisation. A salutation is an essential part of writing a memo. It shows to whom the memo addresses and under what department.

Reference letters

This is also a formal letter that a candidate may use to apply for a job. Some companies may seek a reference letter from candidates to verify their qualifications for certain posts. Salutations are important in reference letters since they show the professionalism of the company you worked for.

A template of a letter showing the use of salutations

The template below shows how to use salutation in a letter:

[Your name]
[Your address]

[Receiver's name]
[Receiver's address]

[Opening salutation]

[Letter content.]

[Closing]

[Your name or signature]

A sample letter with salutations

Below is an example of a cover letter containing a formal salutation:

Augustine Tyson
Perth Town Hall
0434 875 258
Atyson32@email.com

TO

Hiring manager
Tregcom limited
Perth WA 6906
au.tregcomlimited.com

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to express my interest in the data clerk post that was advertised. I believe my education and previous experience aligns well with the qualifications that are required for the position.

I have a solid educational foundation and a strong passion for IT. I possess a good understanding and excellent knowledge of different IT fields, including data analysis, security analysis, database and basic knowledge of software design and development.

I have excellent oral and written communication skills. I also have integrity and a professional demeanour. In addition, I'm a good team player, hardworking and I can work under minimal supervision.

I am confident that the experience I have gained makes me an ideal candidate for this role. It would be an excellent opportunity to grow my career and contribute my skills and proficiency in your organisation towards your team's effort.

I will be eagerly waiting for a positive response from you. Thanks in advance.

Yours sincerely,

Augustine Tyson

Frequently asked questions

The following are the frequently asked questions about letter salutation:

Can I use the full name of the receiver in the salutation?

If you are not sure of the gender of the receiver, you may use their full names, for example, Dear Chizembe Alira. You could also use two names and only one honorific, for instance, Dear Mr Chizembe Alira. This is most common in formal letters. In an informal letter, it's more common to use the first name.

How do I write the salutation if the letter is for two people?

Sometimes you may write letters meant for two people. In such a case, you may write both names in the salutation. For example, you may write, Dear Amos and Luke.

Is it necessary to include a salutation?

It is common to use a salutation as a form of greeting. This can ensure the correct recipient receives your letter. It also establishes a professional and polite tone for the letter.

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