Addressing one person in a business letter is simple enough -- you just say "Dear Mr./Ms./Dr." and the person's last name. It's not so simple when you have to address several people at once in a business letter. Business etiquette might dictate that certain people be listed first, yet sheer expedience may require you to drop the names altogether. In the end, you'll have to use your discretion, based on your familiarity with the recipients and the culture of your workplace.
Address Multiple People in a Business Letter
Address multiple recipients of a business letter as an entity or as individuals, depending on the circumstances. If your letter is directed to a company as a whole or a specific department within that company, say "Dear Abacus Investments" or "Dear Investor Relations." If you are addressing two or three people and space permits, you can spell out their individual names. Say "Dear Agnes, Barry and Carl" if you are on first-name terms. If not, say "Dear Ms. Smith, Mr. Jones and Mr. Thomas." Otherwise, for a larger group, refer to them as a whole, such as "Dear Board Members."
Specify the names of couples who are joint addressees in a business letter. Gauge your level of familiarity and address accordingly. In formal cases, use "Mr. John Devoe and Ms. Agnes Devoe" on the envelope. If the woman uses her maiden name, write "Mr. John Devoe and Ms. Agnes Murchison." In formal cases in the salutation, say "Dear Mr. Devoe and Ms. Murchison." In informal cases in the salutation, say "Dear John and Agnes," or vice versa.
Use a variety of different forms of address when writing a business letter to a group by email, which gives you greater latitude for salutations than regular letters do. Address work groups as "Dear Team," "Dear Colleagues" or "Dear Sales Colleagues." If you can't figure out whom to address specifically, you can say "Greetings" or "Good Morning." If your work culture supports it, use the more casual "Hello" or "Hi All." Refrain from using gender-specific terms such as "Dear Sirs," "Dear Gentlemen" or "Hi Guys," and do so only if you are certain you are addressing only male recipients.
Tips & Warnings
- As a variation on addressing a group, you can specify a particular individual in the "Attention" portion two spaces above a salutation, while addressing the group as a whole in the salutation itself.
- Certain forms of multiple address are acceptable, but may be considered old-fashioned, stilted or overdone. These include "To Whom It May Concern," "Ladies and Gentlemen" and "Sir and Madam."
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