Every business correspondence begins and ends with a salutation. In interview or meeting scenarios, salutations start and end the conversation naturally. Business letter salutations are more complex and difficult. In a letter you have one chance to make the right impression, and using the correct opening and closing business salutation sets the tone for the rest of the letter. There are multiple business salutations available. Knowing your options will help you make the right impression.
Opening Salutations - Name Unknown
If you don't know the name of the person your business letter is directed to, there are many salutations you can choose from that will retain your professional appeal. In business, opening salutations should always be formal as a way of showing respect for the recipient. If you don't know the recipient's name but know his or her gender, the following salutations are appropriate: "Dear Sir(s)," "Gentlemen," "Dear Madam," or "Ladies." If you don't know the recipient's name or gender, use these salutations: "To whom it may concern," "Ladies and Gentlemen," or "Dear Sir or Madam."
Opening Salutations - Name Known
Ambiguous salutations are fine, but it's always better to know the name, job title and gender of the recipient. This not only shows that you've done your research, but also makes you look more professional. If possible, avoid the above salutations and only use them if all efforts to find out the name of the recipient have been exhausted. Opening business salutations for known recipients include: "Dear Mr. (name of the recipient)," or "Dear Miss/Mrs./Ms. (name of the recipient)." The differences between Miss, Mrs., Ms are: Miss addresses an unmarried woman; Mrs. addresses a married woman; and Ms. addresses a woman whose marital status you are uncertain of. If the recipient holds an honorary title, such as "Dr.," use it only if the recipient commonly uses it to identify herself.
Formal Closing Salutations
Closing business salutations should match the tone of the letter. If the letter is very formal, you should use a formal closing salutation. A formal salutation is polite, respectful and courteous to the recipient. Common formal salutations are: "Sincerely," "Yours sincerely," "Respectfully yours," "Faithfully yours," and "Yours truly." These salutations will help retain your professional business letter persona and put your best foot forward.
Casual Closing Salutations
There are several instances where you might write a business letter that's a bit less formal. In these types of letters, you still want to appear professional and respectful, just in a way that matches the tone and content of the letter. Casual closing salutations are great way achieve exactly that. These include salutations such as, "Kind regards," "Best regards," Warmest regards," "Many thanks," "Kind thanks," "Truly," and "With appreciation."