do I really have to use formal openings and closings in every email?

A reader writes:

I just attended a training where I was told a professional email MUST begin with one of the following:
• Hello [Name],
• Good morning/afternoon/evening [Name],
• Greetings [Name],
• Dear [Name],
• Welcome back [Name],
• Thank you [Name],

The trainer also said a professional email MUST end with one of the following:
• Respectfully,
• Thank you,
• Regards/Kind Regards/Best Regards,
• Cordially,

Is this true? I supervise a small team in a local government setting. We send many internal emails and emails to governmental and community partners, e.g. local nonprofit staff. We do have some occasions to communicate directly with residents in email, but it is not common.

I receive and send many emails that start with “Hi [Name]” and end with “Thanks,” both of which were outlawed by this trainer as too friendly for professional emails.

I also receive and send many emails and replies that have no opening or closing salutation whatsoever, which this trainer said is never to be done in emails, period.

I have tried following her advice for a day so far and end up beginning every email with “Hello [Name],” and ending every email with “Thank you,” because the other options feel much too formal, but even this much feels too formal. Should I stick with “Hello [Name],” and “Thank you,”?

Ignore this trainer.

Her “rules” are ridiculous and make me think she’s never worked in a normal professional setting before.

It’s very, very normal to send emails that start with “Hi Jane” or even just “Hi” and which end with “Thanks” or just your name, or (if they’re internal or going to someone you email with a ton) have no opening salutation or closing sign-off at all.

If your trainer’s rules were just for formal emails — like writing to a client you’d never worked with before — then sure. You’d have an opening and closing. But with people in your office, or people you’ve emailed me with a bunch of times? What you’re doing is fine, and it’s normal, and it doesn’t break any rules of modern business communication.

In fact, as you’ve discovered, adhering to these rules every time could actually make you look weirdly formal or chilly in a lot of office environments.

This trainer is out of touch.

But I do I especially like that she included “Welcome back (Name)” in her list of acceptable openings. It’s such a random inclusion! I want her to also include “Where have you been (Name)” and “Sorry about your indigestion (Name)” as possible email openings.

Anyway, she is deeply wrong, and unfortunately this makes everything else you heard at that training suspect as well.

{ 416 comments… read them below }

  1. MusicWithRocksInIt

    I usually just start emails with the name of the person i’m emailing. Especially in back and fourth conversations using Hi each time feels weird to me.

    Jane,

    Reports are due tomorrow.

    Thanks,

    Music

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      Agreed. I do the same. And if there’s a bunch of emails in the same conversation, I usually only add the person’s name to the initial one I send.

      1. sacados

        Seconded.
        Judging by the comments below, I guess it just goes to show how different peoples’ preferences can be about this sort of thing!
        But especially for internal emails, talking to my team members, etc. I often use just first name. And definitely in a long email chain where we’re going back and forth multiple times, the salutation starts to feel redundant pretty quick.
        If it was an external email, say for a client/partner that I interact with frequently, I might be more likely to start the first email with “Hi Name” but that’s about it.

      2. Lx in Canada

        Same, I only do “Hey -name-” or “Hi -name-” in the initial one. I have an email signature set up that puts thanks at the end of all my emails automatically.

        1. Lance

          Thirding (fourthing?) this. Saying ‘hi’ before a comment only makes sense on initial contact verbally… so why should that be any different for e-mail? That’s how I look at it, at any rate.

    2. ZSD

      Really? If I received an email that started with just my name rather than “Hi [Name],” I’d think the email’s author was angry with me. For example, I would read the same email you’ve given as indicating that you’re impatient with Jane for having forgotten to do her reports in the past.

      1. HowIMetYourFather

        I completely agree! I would read the example provided as a tad bit snippy or brusque. I think using the ‘first name only’ method works when the body of the email has a slightly lighter tone though.

        Jane,

        Quick reminder that the reports are due tomorrow afternoon.

        Thanks!
        HIMYF

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Same. My old boss used to write this way, and it took me awhile to realize he wasn’t irritated/annoyed with me. He just hates typing and is abrupt in email. But it first read to me as more directive (like scolding someone) than a “Hi PCBH.”

        I vote for OP going with “Hi [Name]” for folks they know or have conversed with before. For randos or folks up the hierarchy, I vote for “Dear [Name].” I suspect this trainer is out of touch with e-mail norms, although it’s true that sometimes folks who are up the governmental hierarchy prefer to be addressed formally in general or in the first instance.

        All of OP’s sign-offs sound sufficiently formal, too. The only risk with “Thanks” is if it could be read as passive aggressive. For example, if someone misread something the first time and I have to remind them, I sign off with “All best” or “Best” instead of my usual “Thanks.” In that context, I don’t want my “thanks” to inadvertently read as sarcastic. But this is also where it helps to just always sign off with “Thanks,” because then no one thinks of it as anything other than your sign-off.

        1. College Career Counselor

          I’m a big fan of using “cheers,” (which can come across as British, I guess?), especially if there’s no follow up required (I’m passing information to a colleague or student). But I’ll also use “thanks” (when there is a follow up required) or “best” when the tone is more formal and/or there’s someone external on the email as well.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen

            “Cheers” is useful in BrEng communications to signify both “thanks” and “bye for now” at the same time, so I think it very suitable for informal emails.

            That said, I would probably use it internally only, and not in skip level situations. I think it’s quite familiar.

        2. Avasarala

          I agree. I have a coworker who always uses my name with no greeting in emails, and even overuses it in speech. I know it’s just her thing, but it definitely makes me feel condescended to or patronized for some reason. It feels like I’m being scolded.

      3. Adereterial

        Agreed – it reads as curt or abrupt to me, and it’s almost universally done in my workplace to express some form of displeasure or annoyance.

        In a back and forth with people I work with frequently I’ll often drop the ‘Hi so and so’ but always, always start an email with Hi or Dear, occasionally with ‘Good Morning/Afternoon’ if it’s a mailbox manned by multiple people. Unless I’m peeved – such as the email I sent today to someone who thought they could set my team work and dictate their priorities, that was just addressed by name to signify I was Not. Happy.

      4. Venus

        It depends, although Music did clearly mention that this was back-and-forth.

        In my group it would be entirely reasonable for Jane to send an email to me saying:
        > Hey, when are those reports due?
        So my responding with:
        > Reports are due tomorrow, thanks!
        would be entirely reasonable.

        Mind you, there is also a business culture here of acronyms or ways of writing such that ‘Ack’ is acceptable as the only word in a response, even if there isn’t a long-standing relationship with the recipient. At first I thought it meant that someone was worried about what I had written, although thankfully I quickly sorted out what it really meant.

      5. Oxford Comma

        I think there’s a point when you’ve exchanged two or three emails where just the name would be fine, but I concur with ZSD. I would read this as you’re ticked off with me.

        1. SAN

          This whole discussion is very culture specific. In a previous job, i’d use informal with my fellow Canucks and Brits. For my South America colleagues, similar but ensure I use the “right” name (many had double first names), was direct in my ask, and always asked about family/friends. With the Dutch, a combination of formal and blunt – very formal opening/closing (think of handwritten letters from the 1930s), but with very blunt discussion in the middle – I need x, y, z by day A, here is reply B, etc… it worked. So to me, correspondence needs to be tailored to your audience.

      6. Aurion

        Haha, yes, terse emails that get straight to the point without opening/closing is how I professionally (passive-aggressively?) display my displeasure, but it takes a lot to get me there.

        When my vendor rep was not sending me information I’d requested for over a week, can’t seem to discern between A document and B document, and I was on a deadline…you bet I was going “[Name], per my very first email I need the Chocolate Teapot papers, not the Caramel Teapot papers, and I need them today. It’s been a week.” without a closing salutation.

        Considering the colourful assortment of emails my sales reps get daily, I actually thought I was being remarkably restrained.

      7. Ramblin' Ma'am

        Yeah, this sounds rather brusque to me. Even if I were impatient with Jane, I’d still use “Hi.” And if there weren’t a previous issue with punctuality on Jane’s part, I’d probably tweak the wording as well.

      8. Quinalla

        I’m really surprised folks consider just a name as rude, it’s extremely common in my industry & company and not considered rude at all. I wouldn’t do it in a formal email/letter/memo/etc., but it is what we do in informal emails for sure. And yeah, signing off Thanks! is so much the norm a lot of folks I know have added it to their official signature :)

        How about IMs/texts? I find it annoying when someone opens up with a content-less greeting-only message, though it doesn’t bother me if they put one in the initial message. “Hey Quinalla!” vs. “Hey Quinalla, did you get the TPS report finished yet?”

        1. Aurion

          IM is to me a more informal medium than email, so I don’t mind if colleagues IM me with a straight to the point message ala “do you have the widget report?” without the salutation. If they go “Hi Aurion, do you have the widget report?” that’s fine too.

          What drives me up the wall is the people who open with a salutation and must wait for me to reply with a return greeting before getting to the point of the question, because that’s just inefficient to me and I have to sit there, respond, and then wait for them to type out whatever their question is. It annoys me double if they’re a slow typer.

        2. Quinalla

          And I just scrolled through the last 50 or so emails and yes, most folks used “Name-” or “Name,” or just “Name”. Responses often had no name greeting. I found two emails (one a marketing e-mail) out of 50-ish that used “Hi Name,” And about half were with external folks, so not just a company thing.

          When addressing a group, no greeting at all typically, I usually go with “All-”

          The comments for this are really interesting!

          1. boo bot

            Interestingly, I find “Name-” to be less curt than “Name,” – I think the dash somehow conveys “this is a greeting” in my brain, in a way that just “Name,” doesn’t.

            1. CanCan

              Agreed. “Name-” is also convenient when writing to multiple people:

              “Here’s my draft report.
              Alice- Can you check if my numbers are correct?
              Bob- Can you please prepare the diagrams?”

          2. Aquawoman

            Yeah, my experience matches up exactly with this. Sometimes, it’s “Hi, Name” but that correlates very highly with the initiation of a new subject of discussion. So, it’ll be, “Hi, Jasper, I just got assigned to this case and…” but if Jasper asked for a form, it’ll be, “Jasper, here is the form you needed,” or without a name at all.

        3. Green great dragon

          I am forever sending IMs that just say ‘Hi [name]’ because I’m so used to hitting Enter after writing that in an email. I suspect I’m not the only one. I would like to apologise on behalf of all of us.

          1. The New Wanderer

            I think that’s a useful habit and I do it on purpose myself because the person receiving the IM might have someone else looking at their screen, and for us only the first message shows up as a notification. It gives the recipient a heads up without revealing anything more to anyone who might be looking on.

        4. ampersand

          Maybe it’s a regional difference re: whether it reads as rude vs. not? I’m in Texas, and I think leaving off a greeting sounds unfriendly so I don’t do it. I usually close emails with either “sincerely” or “thanks!” depending on how many emails have gone back and forth/how well I know the recipient.

        5. J E

          I was in a communications training where this came up in conversation as an irritant (about half and half with 20 people present)!

          The reason I open an IM with “Hi” is so that the person has an opportunity to respond with something like – “Sharing my screen now” or “can I get back to you in 5” rather than just assume they are available to get into a 5 minute back and forth. I think it must be context/position/company variable though.

          On email salutations, it’s funny that we put a name in the greeting since the sender and recipient are the guaranteed always redundant pieces of information! Think of the productivity gains if we skipped all of those extra keystrokes. (I generally don’t put in a salutation name or closing name in internal emails if I know the person well, but our culture is slowly becoming more formal, so I guess I had better get accustomed to it.)

          1. Emily K

            I always rolled my eyes on Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars when they’re always signing their texts to each other. These girls and my grandmother are the only people who think SMS messages need a name signed!

          2. PossiblyEnoughDetailToBeIdentified

            I guess where emails are between individuals that makes sense, but if addressing a CC’d group (or, heaven forbit, a legit Reply All!), some context for who needs to take the bulk of the action can help.
            And I send emails from a dedicated group account, and sign my name so additional replies can be filtered to me, rather than the rest of the team weighing in on my project.

            So, I guess it’s a case of workplace specific norms, as with so many things

        6. Emily K

          Yeah, I feel like this is so culturally dependent. Humans who work together will tend to converge on a similar communication style with some small amount of variance because as a species we mimic each other instinctively. When you’re talking about internal emails with members of your own team, they’re never being written in a vacuum, they’re couched in a communications culture and they’re only going to come across rude or offensive if they’re wildly out of step with out how others in the office communicate.

        7. Seeking Second Childhood

          We have someone who treats EVERY IM like a mini letter. It is overwhelming.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood

            And no she’s not Emily K”s grandmother. ;) Maybe went to the same training though.

      9. SusanIvanova

        If the email is just to one person it could be weird, but if there are a bunch of people on an email chain then that’s just a way of drawing their attention to it.

      10. ECHM

        I consider this

        ECHM,
        bla bla bla …

        the written equivalent of someone taking my chin in their hand and turning my head to look at them. It immediately puts me on edge.

      11. Birch

        Hard same. I hate when people use my name. It sounds admonishing. My back-and-forths usually start with “Ok!” or “Thanks!” If you don’t need a Hi, you don’t need the name either.

      12. miss_chevious

        HAHAHAHA! I started putting “Hi” at the beginning of my emails to make it sound *nicer*. (I got feedback that just using people’s names was too terse.) The different interpretations people have of tone in email is so interesting to me.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I loath correspondence that has no salutation and starts with “Name’.

      It reads rude and harsh.

        1. Oilpress

          I agree. If this is the type of thing that someone wants to judge you by then they’ve probably already judged you harshly many times about something else too.

          Give people the benefit of the doubt. It makes it easier to get along.

        2. The IT Plebe

          I think “rude and harsh” are a little too strong — to me, just “Name,” reads brusque at worst — but I don’t see how that would generate drama unless Becky Lynch is someone who would carry that feeling over to IRL interactions and cloud their judgment that way. But I don’t see any indication that that’s the case.

      1. PossiblyEnoughDetailToBeIdentified

        I think this depends on the rest of the workplace norms. If 9 out of 10 coworkers use “Hi”, the tenth is being unnecessarily unfriendly. If 9 out 10 coworkers go straight for “Name”, the tenth is being a little overfriendly.

        In my office the culture is “Hi – Thanks” / “Good morning – Kind Regards” / “Name – Regards”, and these are “normal interactions” / “first greetings with external client or formal board member communications” / “I’m displeased with you”

      2. Jennifer Juniper

        I’d think, “Uh-oh! I’m in trouble! What did I do?” and then the anxiety spiral and compulsive apologizing starts.

    4. Kes

      This reads as a little brusque to me, especially since you’re enforcing a deadline – it comes off as a bit demanding. Hi softens that a bit.
      That said, when emailing back and forth in a thread after a bit I’ll drop the salutation altogether and just write my reply (although my ending is a signature – ‘Thanks, Kes’ – and so stays)

      1. NQ

        I wonder if there are country differences here. I was a little surprised when my manager in the US would start emails with just my name. After a while I learned that was normal for him, and he was not mad at me. In the UK, I don’t think I’ve worked with anyone who writes like that.

        1. CMart

          I honestly think it’s company-culture specific, rather than country. I’m in the US and would find an initiating e-mail that started with just my name to be quite brusque/annoyed perhaps as well.

          The two people in my org that I’ve received correspondence from like that were from the Netherlands and Germany, but came to my company from the same corporation before us which made me wonder if that’s how they do it over at Other Corp.

          1. Perse's Mom

            There’s certainly room for some individual personality in this. My company is pretty relaxed around email greetings with coworkers (Hey Bob, Hi Janet, Hi friends for the most part) but my grand-boss goes straight to “Name” “Message” “End” and it absolutely reads as brusque.

        2. restingbutchface

          Another UK person here and same, starting with just a name is a great British passive aggressive way of saying, I’m being polite but I am displeased with you. See also, “as per my last email”, “as you are no doubt aware…” and even changing your sign off from “kind regards” to the TERRIBLY CUTTING “regards”.

          Human beings are brilliantly odd and complicated overthinkers :)

          1. Horological

            Wait what?
            That must be an industry/team thing, not a British one. Where I work, starting with just a name is completely normal and neutral – starting with ‘Hi’ is something you mostly see from the HR/management side of things and tends to skew female as well. ‘Regards’ is also standard here for formal, informational things.

            I just did a check through my inbox, and interestingly enough the people who use ‘Hi’ also use ‘Kind Regards’ more often. All of them are people who by either gendered social pressure or by nature of the job are expected to be good with people. The techies (of which I’m one) all skew heavily to just name and either no send-off or ‘regards’ (thanks is pretty universal). We’re all pretty personable here, so it’s probably linked to the nature of our day-to-day tasks.

            (This has actually been really useful – I know now how to tailor to non-technical staff here – though I’ve generally found mimicking the person I’m responding to to work)

            1. londonedit

              UK person here and I agree with restingbutchface on all counts. If I received an email that just started with my name, I’d consider it rude and brusque. Or possibly assume that the person emailing was really pissed off with me.

              I always start emails to people I haven’t written to before with ‘Dear Name’, or if I have written to them before, ‘Hi Name’. If I’m emailing close colleagues I might start with ‘Hello!’ or sometimes if it’s just a short note about something insignificant, just ‘Hey, wondered if you’d seen the email about the lunch tomorrow?’ or whatever. Often after a few back-and-forth emails with someone I generally email on an informal basis, we’ll drop the ‘Hi Name’ greeting and just launch into the reply.

              I usually use ‘Best wishes’ or ‘Many thanks’ as a sign-0ff, but more informally will use ‘Cheers’. Or if it’s Friday and I’m closing the correspondence, ‘Have a great weekend’.

              1. restingbutchface

                Compare and contrast!

                Hi RBF,

                Can you join us in the meeting room please?

                Thanks,
                Manager

                Vs

                RBF,

                Can you join us in the meeting room please?

                Manager

                One of those emails will make my stomach plummet :)

                1. Jennifer Juniper

                  Either one of those would scare me. “Can you join us in the meeting room?” sounds like I’m about to be fired.

            2. restingbutchface

              I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear, I was referring to a back and forth conversation where someone who has been signing off with kind regards goes out of their way to change it to regards.

              And I’m a senior tech so while it’s probably different within different company cultures, I’m not sure it’s an industry standard.

          2. A Little Odd

            Ooooh reading that “regards” felt like ice water in my veins. Genuinely chilling.

            Added to the list of delightful passive aggressivity I mentioned this somewhere downthread but I do love a “thanks in advance” thrown in there as a closing.

            Ah, I miss the workplace (no).

            1. restingbutchface

              Oh oh, how’s this? I had a sales guy who was So Incredibly Busy he signed off with KR. Because he didn’t have the time to write kind regards or even create a signature. He mentioned this time saving tip about once a month.

              KR!
              RBF

    5. JSPA

      Assuming jane’s name is pretty evident from the email address, and there are no cc’s, and especially if it’s part of an email chain between two people, I’d leave off the name and go with “Hi–” or some variant of brief greeting. I would not be sending it to Jane if I wanted it from Jim, after all.

      In contrast, if it’s going to multiple people, I’ll flag that in the greeting–

      “Hi all” or “Hi Jane (and cc to Jim)–” or break it up in parts:

      at top in bold “Hi Both (and see below)–”
      [section pertaining to both, regular type]

      then below, in bold
      “Jane–
      [specific additional info Jane needs, and Jim may need to know Jane has it]

      “Jim–”
      [specific additional info Jim needs, and Jane may need to know that Jim has it]

      Ending,

      “–Thanks, both of you! Great job so far, let’s keep this rolling.”

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen

        Outlook accepts tags for contacts – so in your case you would type:

        @Jane Smith could you please weigh in on the need for common abbreviations

        and her name would go bold and blue so there’s no confusion between her and Jane Jones in Finance who’s also copied.

        I have not worked out what the possibilities are of this function but even that much is useful for larger group emails.

      2. Emily K

        I mix it up a LOT. I would say in a typical week I probably use all of these depending on mood/context:
        “Hey Name,”
        “Hi Name,”
        “Name -”
        “Hi all,”
        “Hey -”

        But by far the most common thing I do is just start into the topic without any particular greeting. Most of the people I email with are people I’ve worked with for years and email so regularly that it’s almost like I think of our conversations as just one ongoing communication rather than discrete messages. The above greetings are typically reserved for people I email very infrequently, like the account manager at a vendor who I only email when I need help with something once every 3-4 months.

    6. NotAnotherManager!

      While this would not bother me personally, if I wrote emails to my team in this manner, I’d have a line (or HR would have a line) of people wondering why I was so ticked off at them. I have a tendency to be dry and to the point, and I’ve had to make an effort to make it clear in emails, where tone doesn’t come through at all, that people know I’m going for friendly-get-this-done rather than this-is-a-direct-order-soldier.

      But, OP’s trainer would hate me because I start and end nearly every email as she does – start with “Hi, [Name]”, and end with “Thanks, NAM!”.

    7. Short Time Lurker Komo

      I’m surprised at all the people saying just a first name is brusque, though the given example does read that way. My company tends to just do first names, and to see a Hi or something to me reads like ‘…What do they want?’ – like a child saying ‘I love you Mom!’

      I do something similar to this.
      ————–
      Manager,

      Here is my status report. Let me know if you have any questions!

      Thanks,

      Komo.

      ———–

      Or something like this,

      ————

      Person’s name that asked me a thing,

      Here is the information you requested. Let me know if I can be of further assistance!

      Thanks,

      Komo

      1. Spencer Hastings

        It’s interesting that you gave “Manager” as an example, because my intuition about the “bare name without a hi” practice is that it’s basically OK, but I wouldn’t think of doing it to someone who outranked me. But clearly this is not universal!

        1. Short Time Lurker Komo

          My manager – and all my upper management – haven’t told me they see an issue with it, but I’ll be following up for sure! XD

          This is also how they tend to send emails when they are familiar with the person, so my company just has a different culture when it comes to email!

      2. Safetykats

        Maybe this is industry specific – as I’m an engineer and we probably tend towards efficiency – but I don’t think I’ve ever received a work email that started with anything other than:

        Safetykats,

        Most people in my workplace sign off with

        Thanks, Name

        Or sometimes just Thanks.

        A lot of folks have auto signatures that include title and contact info, but a lot don’t.

        Funny story about this actually – a few of us had a debate the other day about how to spell a coworker’s name. She doesn’t go by her given name. The name she comes by could be spelled a a few different ways. We all looked back through our emails from her, and she had literally never signed her name in a single one.

        That doesn’t come across as rude though – she’s a busy person, and we all know she’s not rude. She is, however, very efficient.

    8. Clisby

      Same here. However, when I worked at a company where we fairly frequently were contacting people at a partner organization in Germany, I got into the habit of closing out with “Regards” when I corresponded with them – that’s the way they closed emails to me.

  2. The Original K.

    My business writing tends toward the formal and even my emails start with “Hello [Name]” or Hi [Name],” and I think the only time I include a closing is if I’m writing to someone I don’t know. But for people I work with closely, it’s “Hi [Name], did you send me those TPS reports?” and I’ve never had an issue.

  3. Been There

    +1000 to “Sorry about your indigestion (Name)”
    This one had me silent laughing at my desk!

    1. MsMaryMary

      This could be fun.

      Glad the charges were dropped, Name
      Hello Name and Name’s Assistant (who we all know ghostwrites these emails)
      Hoping this is the 1 in 4 emails you’ll actually acknowledge, Name
      Sorry you didn’t get that promotion, Name

      1. Sally

        Also, I’d like to know what occasion would call for “Welcome back, Name”! Someone you ghosted last year? or what!?

          1. Lance

            Even then, it feels so… odd to have ‘welcome back’ as the greeting itself, rather than part of the message beyond it.

            1. NotAnotherManager!

              I don’t disagree on the preferred construction (I’d put it in the message part as well), just pointing out situations where this might be appropriate. :)

      2. Nope!

        If somebody closed an email to me with “hoping this is the one in four emails you’ll actually acknowledge” I would not even be mad. Sheepish because it’s true, but not mad.

        Ruefully,
        Nope!

    2. merp

      There was a great twitter thread about how boring all “professional” email salutations were (think, according to trainers like these). Suggestions included:

      Watch your back,
      Merp

      or,
      Remember, death comes for us all!
      Merp

      1. The New Wanderer

        I gave my friend a hard time for saying “Take care” to a cashier once. It just struck me as enough out of the norm to say to a stranger you had a 5 second interaction with that I thought it sounded vaguely sinister, like watch your back. :-)

        A storm is coming,
        – The New Wanderer

      2. Bleh

        “Watch your back” is one of the things NPC dwarves say in World of Warcraft as a goodbye. They also say “Safe travels” and “See you soon”.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood

        I worked for an engineering manager who signed off “Have a sparkling day!” He was perhaps a little burned out and sarcastic. ..

        1. A Little Odd

          I had a manager who signed all emails with “happy days” it remains my favourite “so over it but gritting my teeth for the paycheck” closing of all time. I used it all the time as a manager and still do occasionally when I’m contacting.

          As requested, the three pieces of extra work you asked for with little to no turnaround time.
          Happy days,
          A

          In writing this I realise I also regularly sign off emails with only my first initial. I dread to think what my staff used to think of my emails!

          1. Hepzibah Pflurge

            I regularly sign off e-mails with just my first initial as well. Largely because people often shorten my name to a common nickname, which I detest, so I’ve settled on the initial only as a compromise. I only use that for informal e-mails with someone I know well, either internal or external.

        2. Jennifer Juniper

          If someone said “Have a sparkling day!” I would think “Oh god, not another person into newage!” (Newage rhymes with sewage).

  4. WorkIsADarkComedy

    Did the trainer also instruct you to sign your emails with a fountain pen and wrap them in a red ribbon?

      1. Corporate Goth

        I had candidates showing up for a very formal panel interview a while back, and the process was that they would recieve half the questions at a scheduled point ahead of time (building full of introverts). I actually did use a wax seal to hold folded paper together because I couldn’t find regular envelopes. It wound up being an icebreaker.

          1. J E

            Ha! So do I? What kind of organization is this? I kind of want to go through their application process.

      2. Drew

        “Cyrus always uses red wax but this time he’s using blue. What does it mean? Am I in trouble? Is he in love? WHAT IS THE MESSAGE?”

        Narrator: Cyrus was out of red wax.

    1. Lalitah28

      I thought it was papyrus and a messenger pigeon? Am I out of date? Wilt not some kind soul counsel me, pray!

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      OMG, I used to work in an office where a supervisor PRINTED all the emails and responded to them in red ink. Then, instead of sending a return email, they would use the intra-office delivery system to send them their response (or would drop it on the person’s desk).

      And then there’s the federal court where judges correspond with one another by drafting formal letters, printing the letters, signing the hard copy with a “wet signature,” scanning the letter for their records, faxing the hard copy letter to recipients, and finally emailing recipients to let them know they have a fax waiting for them.

      1. Paralegal Part Deux

        My attorneys like to draft letters and then email the correspondence to the recipient. I can’t get them to understand the email is the correspondence.

        1. EPLawyer

          AAARRGGGGH. I hate when the entire body of the email is “see correspondence attached.” Just put what you want in the bloody body of the bloody email. I know, I know then they can put it on their fancy letterhead and be all formal. I don’t care.

          It’s gotten to the point that I KNOW that not only is in an attachment, but they are sending me a hard copy. I haven’t received it until I get the hard copy then (deadline counting). If you want a faster response put it in the body of the email. Passive aggressive I know, but it saves MY blood pressure.

          1. Paralegal Part Deux

            It drives me up the wall when they email it and send it hardcopy. I want to yell “pick one!” but have managed to not do that.

            1. Jennifer Juniper

              Or maybe they’re trying to be extra sure that you actually get it. Post offices can lose mail and e-mail servers can freeze or crash. That way, they’re doubly covered.

          2. General von Klinkerhoffen

            I hate this so much, and it gives me such a low opinion of the sender.

            The crucial difference between a normal email and a scanned letter is what the computer can do with the text: almost everything in the former case and almost nothing in the latter. Your recipient can search the body of the email for key words, use a screen reader or dictionary or translation aid, etc etc. There’s simply no excuse in 2019 for (in my case) attorneys to be scanning correspondence when filings go digitally. Your entire office is computer literate: kindly make use of their skills!

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          Even better: the Second Circuit. The younger appointees tried to revolt and were beaten into submission with the “tradition” gavel.

          (I hope it’s since changed.)

      2. Le Sigh

        Not an attorney, but my office for years did stuff like this before I got here. There’s nothing quite like doing an office paperwork clean-out of YEARS of non-legally necessary email printouts, many of which said stuff like, “Will do.” Why, in the year of 2007, were we printing out “will do”?

        So.many.paper.cuts cleaning that stuff out.

  5. Librarian of SHIELD

    I think whether to use formal openings and closings is really a “know your audience” thing. I had a supervisor once who was big on manners and ettiquette, and she didn’t like it when people sent her an email that jumped straight into content without greeting her first. She said it felt like the emailer was only interested in what they could get from her rather than maintaining a friendly professional relationship. So I would generally use a more standard greeting and closing with her than I would with my coworkers. But if the standard practice in your office is to use more informal greetings, or just to skip the greetings and get down to business, it’s totally fine to stick with that.

    When I email someone for the first time, I tend to go slightly more formal until we get to know each other better, and then I can decide whether to go a little more casual over time.

    1. The New Wanderer

      Exactly. If I’m responding to an email I reflect the same level of formality that they use. Some people don’t use an opening line at all, some put Hi/Hello/Good morning without a name, and some add the name to the salutation. (Almost never just Name with no greeting though, that is a bit off putting and I wouldn’t respond in kind.) Same with closing. Then again, around here people tend to put their closing line in their sig file so it’s automatically appended to every email and thus the same for every recipient.

      It struck me that the trainer needed filler material and latched on to outdated email etiquette (since typed business letter etiquette isn’t as necessary these days). I can’t think of the last time I got a work email that started with “Dear Name” that wasn’t spam.

      1. OP

        The trainer did not need filler material. She were running out of time at the end and she rushed through this handout. Maybe if she’d had more time she could’ve qualified her advice? However, I think it is most likely she is someone, like many commenters, who finds it offputting to get an email that starts [Name], without a Hi or Hello. I think I will avoid using just [Name], with people I don’t know. It’s helpful to know there are strong opinions on this!

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I’m the same. Everyone I contact for the first time gets a formal opening/closing. If I know you well and email often, then there’s no opening/closing, anyway—I just type my message content in.

      I tend to keep the opening/closing when I’m speaking to someone with greater seniority, but I think that’s because law is so obsessed with hierarchy. Although to be fair, I would never send an email to my dean or to a judge without an opening/closing, and I suspect that’s analogous in other fields.

    3. Mockingjay

      I came here to say something similar. Audience is SO key when writing emails.

      Where I work has a very specific chain of command. Emails to higher-ups and agencies are very formal akin to a business letter, except that we don’t normally use “greeting” words, just names or “All” for groups.
      Team communications are more relaxed, but since emails can be audited, even team comms can be rather structured. As much as I’d like to occasionally write, “Dude, where’s my report!”, it ends up as: “George, please submit the report by Friday COB.”

    4. Mimi

      Very much this.

      I’m also slightly paranoid from a few years of a minority of my review comments being “Mimi is too brusque in emails,” so I always start with formal fluff unless I know the other person well, and only lessen formality if the other person does so first. (The only problem with this approach is that if both people are waiting for the other person to drop the greeting, you can wind up very formal way down the email chain, doing extra typing you both think is unnecessary.) On the plus side, I don’t get complaints about my email style anymore.

    5. Close Bracket

      “She said it felt like the emailer was only interested in what they could get from her rather than maintaining a friendly professional relationship.”

      The old Functional vs. Relationship Building socialization divide. With the number of emails I send to the same people in a day, at some point, I need to cut the crap with the relationship building and jump into the content. We need, at some point, to assume that the relationship is intact.

    6. LQ

      The know your audience thing worries me, I want to say to people. If you are a just business person I am 100% just business, but I’m going to put in the effort to do more because people think I’m overly brusque. I’m starting by pushing myself to use names, next it’ll be a greeting word but it is intensely uncomfortable and I have to stop and go back and edit the email and fight with myself about it every time.

      The last thing I want is for someone to think that I’m someone who prefers my name and a greeting because I’m trying to do this now and so they and do work themselves to add it in when they could just tell me the damn thing and we can move on with our jobs. I swear, I’m a just business person. Don’t use my name. Don’t greet me. Just do the work thing and move on.

      1. LQ

        (This is NOT to say that you shouldn’t know your audience, I’m fairly certain anyone who has been in a meeting, conversation, or even email chain more than 1 long can learn that I’m a just business person really easily. Just pay attention to 2 things instead of one.)

      2. Filosofickle

        I use greetings and pleasantries almost entirely because other people want it — in general, I think it is unnecessary and even annoying. But because I use them, that probably means other people see it and assume I prefer it so they use it with me. And it circles around. Grrr.

        I am more relationship oriented than task oriented overall. Written communication is the one place where I diverge, I guess. But since I do a lot of comms and client-facing work, I have adapted. My goal is to communicate effectively, and often that means editing to ensure my tone sounds more kind and positive.

    7. TPS Cover Sheet

      It definitely is. In the old company I had a legally blind colleague who had all these sight aids to read if he needed, but used text-to-speech for email. He told me how frustrating it was to drone on, and was immensely happy I sent him rudely to the point emails without any niceties. He also hated full texts of nested comments and then one row answer after going through a hundred rows, so with him it was -question -answer …or your emails ended in his blocked senders.

  6. That Girl From Quinn's House

    One of the things I find simultaneously hilarious and rage-inducing about workplaces are rules like this. Someone gets a list/book/article on ways to send a professional email, and then someone just takes it way too seriously.

    “I got an email from Fergus today that said Hi Jane instead of Hello Jane. The handout from the email seminar said that Hi isn’t acceptable. I’m really concerned about Fergus’s ability to follow directions and his commitment to the team, because he disrespected me by starting the email Hi instead of Hello. I have some other serious concerns about his performance, too, because I walked past Fergus’s desk while he was calculating payroll errors and his brow was furrowed and his body language was stiff, and he nodded in stead of smiling or acknowledging me warmly, and the seminar also said that furrowed brows and stiff body language are a sign of not being open or welcoming to others. I think he’s interviewing elsewhere, we should post his job and look into replacing him.”

      1. Zombeyonce

        A former coworker of mine got written up for not including salutations in emails replying to someone else in the office. I suspect it was because they were grasping at straws to find reasons to fire her immediately after she disclosed her bipolar disorder (which they did because that workplace was horribly toxic).

        1. Zombeyonce

          Mind you, they never mentioned this problem the year she was there until the week after she disclosed…

          1. The New Wanderer

            That’s awful, but I guess she had the silver lining of knowing her performance was otherwise good and they literally had to resort to nitpicking her email format to find something to write her up for. I hope she’s at a much better employer now.

    1. Triumphant Fox

      I work in an office with sensitive people and you don’t really know if you’re on their bad sides or not. My team isn’t like this, but when we email other departments (in a small place – not like on a different floor or something), I have to be careful to always address people and have a sign off, or it really may be taken poorly. There is also a lot of “Thank you for your help on x project yesterday. I was wondering if you could help me with another matter regarding Y today if convenient.” instead of “Could you help with Y?” My immediate subordinate isn’t very good at that kind of language and it’s been hard to coach, but I’ve made it clear that people are not reading your email generously here. They are looking for you to disrespect them. If that were my department, I would nope out of here so hard, but my team’s great, so it’s just the cost of being here.

  7. DonnaNoble

    I recently attended a professional development conference at my workplace and one of our speakers talked about this exact thing, and she sounded very much like your trainer. It rubbed me the wrong way, as it seemed oddly formal. Seems like I’m not alone!

  8. Tableau Wizard

    Okay, is there a significant difference between “Hi [Name]” and “Hey [Name]”?

    I ask because my first boss lectured me about it to the point where I have created a line in my own head of who I’m allowed to use “hey” with and everyone else gets “Hi”. Am I the only one? Is this normal?

      1. It Me

        YES – Hey can be really informal and sounds a bit demanding or colloquial to some, so it’s safer just not to use it, unless its like a friend/casual engagement haha. Had a boss once who went off the rails about someone using Hey with her asking an inappropriate request and I’ve been sensitive about it ever since!

      2. Tableau Wizard

        I can see that. Does it come across as generational at all to you?

        I’m a millenial – late 20s – and I use Hey as my default greeting with nearly everyone outside of work emails. But I follow a similar unwritten/unofficial policy as “An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius” describes below. But I also find that I’m much faster to jump into using Hey with someone who is a peer AND who I perceive as my own age.
        (Also the boss who gave my that first lecture framed it as generational, so it’s stuck that way in my head)

        Am I making too much of this?

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I strongly suspect it’s generational, although this may just be my bias. I read “hey” as more collegial than “hi” (unless the “hi” is accompanied by an exclamation point) but my GenX and Baby Boomer bosses strongly prefer the “Hi [Name],” construction.

          I don’t think you’re making too much of it, but I would still use “hi” if my bosses talked to me about it. It’s like when my boss told me to use double spacing, despite my irrationally deep-seated opposition to that convention.

          1. Maxmillian

            I agree with the trainer inasmuch as “hi Max” is much too informal.

            “Dear Max” or just “Max” is much better.

            1. merp

              This is fascinating to me. ‘Hi’ is just.. very normal. I’m not sure why formality matters so much other than potential hierarchy issues (which I still think are silly, but it’s the world we live in). Like… I would never feel disrespected or whatever by someone speaking informally to me, but I can’t think of other reasons. And ‘Dear’ always makes me feel much much weirder.

              Maybe I’m a heathen though because I also do a lot of ‘Hey, name’ because I live in Texas and it just rolls off the tongue, idk.

              1. Filosofickle

                Ugh, “dear” is the worst. It sounds very old fashioned to me. And, more importantly, it sounds personal and not business. Like a handwritten letter to Grandma.

                I use Hey a lot with peers, it feels the most natural, and Hi or Hello when it’s more formal or external. I actually don’t like using greetings much at all, but do it as needed because many people prefer it. (As we can see here in this thread!)

          2. RUKiddingMe

            It may be location specific too. I’m early gen-x/late (like very last possible year) boomer and I use “hey” a lot, as do most of the people I work/interact with.

            Ex:

            “Hey PCBH…
            Here’s that copy of the deposition you needed. Let em know if you need anything else.”
            ………………
            RUK
            CEO, COO, Empress of the Universe
            –.–

            1. Djuna

              Not as late gen-x as you, but I use Hey a lot with peers too.

              If I get an email that starts with “Dear” and ends with “Best regards,” I feel like I’ve been time-vortexed back to 1990.

              And the only person I ever knew to sign his emails with “Respectfully” was an argumentative jerk who used it as a burn at the end of his screeds (just above his alphabetti spaghetti of pointless certifications).

              I’m 46 so I’m not sure this is generational but may be more industry specific? I work in tech and we’re a lot more informal in general, our legal team even uses “Hi” and “Thanks” these days.

              1. NotAnotherManager!

                I work in a corporate law firm, and 90% of the emails I get start with “Hi” and end with “Thanks”. Probably not what goes out to clients, but very normal inside the building.

                Also, I worked on a litigation years ago where one of the parties used to send our client profanity-filled screeds on company letterhead and signed every damn one of them “Respectfully” – it was a running joke amongst the case team, though we strongly suspect it was a standard Word letter template rather than some intentional attempt at irony.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  We used to joke that any correspondence that had “respectfully” in it but disagreed with the recipient was basically another way of saying “FU.”

              2. Clisby

                I worked in tech, and that wouldn’t have been unusual in corresponding with people from Europe.

              3. Lily Rowan

                Also Gen X, and I say Hey out loud all the time but edit it out of most emails in favor of Hi, due to the risk of sounding like I’m yelling at the person.

          3. Seeking Second Childhood

            I would never complain about getting a message or email that started “Hey”… to me it’s an exact equivalent to calling down the hall to get my attention without annoying the neighbors. Problem is I always get a twitchy memory of my mom saying “hay is for horses” so it’s a bit distracting.

          4. Robert Sanderson

            Well I’m a 60 yr old, working with a wide variety of ages from 20s to mid 60s, in a very large company, and “hey Jim (or Karen as the case may be)” is very normal and typical. But then where I work is the polar opposite of the dysfunctional places I read about here.

        2. PB

          I also think this may be generational. I’m an older millennial (mid- to late-30s), and start a lot of personal emails with “hey.” It seems a bit casual for work contexts, although I’ve occasionally used it there, too, with people I communicate with heavily and have a more friendly relationship with.

          1. Moray

            I think you’re right. I’m an older millennial and my office skews fairly young and pretty informal, but I don’t think anyone I work with uses “hey” unless it’s a message to a group, like “hey, team–here are the meeting notes.”

          2. RUKiddingMe

            That’s what I think. Anything formal, business or otherwise starts “Dear SoAndSo,” and ends “Sincerely,” … letter writing class c. 1970s.

            Staff, friends, casual correspondence, even long term clients who *don’t* have a superiority attitude… “Hey Name,” and then just signed with my name/title (if appropriate). I operate almost exclusively on the west coast, so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        3. JSPA

          more regional. West coast has used “hey” as a greeting for a long time. ( and remember that hello is actually a not- so – common -at- the – time word variant that was chosen as a way to answer the telephone when the telephone first went into general use; hey was, i believe another along with several other it’s that seem quite bizarre today). Going elsewhere and using “hey,” you got a prim
          “hay is for horses” in response. But with television and movies coming largely from the LA area for many years the use of hey has spread.

    1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius

      Okay your comment made me actually stop and think about this because I do open some emails with “hey” but only to certain people at certain times.

      The only people I would send a “hey” email to are people at the same level of hierarchy as myself, or one level above or one below, but never 2 or more steps away from me. That is to say, the people I spend the majority of my time working with and with whom I have good relationships.

      And I don’t use it in every email either – if I have to generalize, I think I just use it in the less formal emails that could otherwise be done in an IM system if we had one. “Hey, did you ever get a chance to take a look at this? I’m working on it now if you want to talk about it this afternoon.”

      1. The New Wanderer

        Same, although I don’t think I’d start an email with Hey to my manager, our relationship is still pretty new and therefore more on the formal side. Definitely to my colleagues though. To me it reads as casual, not a demand for attention. I’m solidly Gen X, so I wouldn’t say it’s generational but more indicative of the type of relationship where Hey is not going to stand out.

        And now that I say that, my colleague that I would easily use “Hey” with just emailed me with Name as the only salutation. So, there are no rules.

        1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius

          Yeah, I mean my managers are less than 10 years older than me and we’re all millenials so maybe we’re fine with it as a generation (referring to the discussion above). Plus we’ve known each other a few years now and our work is very collaborative…I spend 80% of my time actively working with them and 20% of my time working solo.

    2. That Girl From Quinn's House

      I got a lecture on this in an extracurricular in college. We were NOT to EVER send emails that started with Hey, because it would make us Very Bad People Who Basically Kicked Puppies.

      It’s just so easy to say Hi instead of Hey I’ve never used “hey” since.

    3. Not Me

      I think it might stem from the fact that “hey” can be used aggressively, like “Hey! Stop doing that!!”. “Hi” is pretty much only used as a friendly greeting.

      1. Tableau Wizard

        I guess… I just think if the rest of the tone of the email is incredibly friendly AND I have any type of rapport with someone, then they would probably know I’m not demanding something.

        I just never read it as demanding, but it’s good for me to understand how others see it.

        1. Mimi

          There’s a generational aspect, a regional aspect (more common in the US south), and possibly also a gender aspect.

          Not sure how you (or your boss) ID, but some women will react strongly to “hey” because that’s the sort of greeting you get from a catcaller on the street. It generally wouldn’t get my hackles up, and I’ve definitely used it (though more often in chat or sms) in a professional context, but there are definitely some men I’ve worked with where I would read a “Hey Mimi” email greeting as an overly slimeball way to start an email correspondence. Definitely correlated to how I feel about the individual in other contexts, though.

      2. JSPA

        Nah, you get Hi as an introduction-interjection combination in Sherlock Holmes and Peter Whimsy — of the, “Hi- what’re you doing with that — drop it, I say!” variety.

    4. Purt's Peas

      Probably it’s a tone issue, so you’re both right. I’m guessing when you write, “Hi Jane,” you say it in your head like you were approaching someone’s desk and greeting them warmly. You’d probably also use the exact same tone and the exact same situation for how you say “Hey Jane” in your head.

      Probably your boss just couldn’t help but hear “Hey Jane” in a different tone–like hailing Jane from across the street, or something along those lines. To your boss, definitely a significant difference, because they just hear the tone differently. To you, probably not a significant difference.

    5. Kes

      Hey reads more casual to me – I’ll typically use Hi for emails and Hey for slack messages, unless I haven’t talked to the person I’m messaging before in which case I’ll use Hi

    6. Ask a Manager Post author

      I like “hey” (and use it in scripts here all the time) but I wouldn’t use it in a formal context, or where the person is senior to you and you don’t know them well. As with anything, you’re got to know your audience.

      1. KAG

        Yeah, “know your audience” is key. I once had an attorney (Texas, around my age) who insisted on beginning all emails with “Ms…” despite my signing my emails with just my first name and, finally, explicitly saying “Please, call me [firstName].”

        She was a horrible attorney, and frankly, I’m now using unwillingness to adapt to informality as a reason to exclude people from consideration.

    7. Alex

      “Hey” can be considered rude. My grandmother used to yell at me for saying it! She’d say “Hay is for horses!”

      I do use “hey” in office emails but only with people I’m close friends with outside of work. These emails may also have 4-letter words.

      1. Admin of Sys

        I’m in the American South – Hey is considered a perfectly fine and normal way to greet anyone you’d use ‘Hi’ with. And I heard the ‘hay is for horses’ thing in my childhood, but it was mostly in the classist based view that ‘only farmers would use such uncouth wording’. Since that particular phrase (hay is for horses) came about in 1740, I feel like it’s a bit outdated these days.

      2. ClashRunner

        “Straw is cheaper, dirt is free. Buy a farm and get all three!”

        See also: “Bale it!”

    8. starsaphire

      I use “hey” a lot, but I also do a lot of subconscious mirroring in my emails.

      So someone who emails me “Dear Ms. Saphire, blah blah” will get a “Dear Mr. X” reply. My supervisor who emails me “Hi Star, do you have…” gets “Hi Boss! Yep, I’ve got…” And the rice sculptor who emails me “Hey Star” or “Yo Star” gets “Hey Bob” right back.

      Never really thought about it, but reading this topic I skimmed over my last few dozen sent work emails and realized I am absolutely mirroring unless I’m emailing a stranger or someone with a significantly higher rank.

      This is super interesting!

    9. Anne (with an “e”)

      I’m a Baby Boomer. To me, “hey” sounds like it’s telling me to do something, and not very much like a greeting.

      “Hey Anne (with an “e”), send me the report ASAP.” “Hey, get the work in by xyz date.” “Hey Anne, be sure to attend the meeting at 3:30 on Tuesday the 30th.”

      1. Spencer Hastings

        “Hey, Anne — there are cupcakes in the third-floor lobby if you want one.”
        “Hey, Anne — I tried out the template you sent me, and it worked perfectly! Thanks again.”

    10. Caramel & Cheddar

      Your boss is definitely my old boss. I had a coworker who emailed her saying “Hey BossName” and she replied with “I would suggest that ‘hey’ is not an appropriate greeting for me.” Whether this is generational or not, it’s not a level of informality I would ever use with someone who is senior to my role. I tend to not use “hey” much either, but that’s because erring on the side of caution with “hi” seems to avoid the problems that can come with “hey” while keeping the friendly tone that I’d mean to imply with “hey” (but can’t guarantee it would be received that way).

    11. BossLady

      I use “hey” in emails to my boss, but we have a really good working relationship and it’s usually when the subject is really casual. As in, “hey, though you might be interested in this article, but realistically you probably don’t have time to read it.” If I’m asking for his review or something else “more official” then I don’t tend to use hey.

      I’m a millennial. He’s Gen X. But honestly, I’m the more formal of the two of us, so I’m not sure that’s the deal breaker here. Either way, we’re both fine with occasional “hey”s. So maybe just know your audience.

    12. HJG

      I’m a millennial and I had a similar conversation with one of my directs. I know they used “hey” interchangeably with “hi,” so I read it that way when she uses it, but I worry about it reading the way other folks on the thread said it can come across, like “HEY give me your attention!” when they’re emailing someone they don’t know well. That being said, we work with people all over the world, and we’re often having to be very carefully diplomatic with people, so I’m extra sensitive to making sure we get the tone right when we’re having to gently explain to someone why they’re wrong about something. “Hi” feels safer!

    13. Close Bracket

      Somebody chewed me out once for opening an email with “Hey.” He said it was unprofessional. Mind you, I have been in the workforce for longer than this person by several years, and I am a native born American whereas he was German. I didn’t appreciate the lecture. I stopped using “Hey” with him, but use it with others with judgement as to who might get a bug in their drawers about it.

  9. ZSD

    The “Greetings” one sounds particularly odd to me. I truly only think of that salutation as being used by extraterrestrials. Unless you have reason to begin your emails with, “Greetings, Earthlings,”* yes, ignore this woman’s advice completely.

    *Which I’m all for.

      1. ThatGirl

        I know this is a random connection, but how about LeVar Burton’s sign off “But you don’t have to take my word for it!”

        Or, to go with the Star Trek vs Star Wars, “May the force be with you!”

      1. Environmental Compliance

        I think there’s a couple coworkers I can get away with this type of greeting with. I also think there’s a couple coworkers that I could totally do this and have them be very, very confused for a while (as they’re too polite to just ask me what the heck I’m doing lol).

        It is far too tempting to start sending out emails with Greetings, Earthlings!

    1. Librarian of SHIELD

      “Greetings, fellow human. I am also definitely a human and am certainly not a Skrull masquerading as your coworker.”

    2. BadWolf

      I use “Greetings” when I need to contact a company for customer support. I hope it feels polite in a sea of angry requests or amuses them.

    3. Melly

      I use “greetings” to be quirky (but only with people who have met me in person and can envision my delivery). I definitely mean it in the, “Greetings, Earthlings” tone!

    4. Delta Delta

      I was on a hiring panel when I worked at International Tapioca, and we got a cover letter that opened, “Greetings, Friends at International Tapioca!” There was an overall creepy vibe to it. Ultimately he was hired. And then fired 6 days later for… (wait for it…) being creepy. I believe the stated reason was “It’s not working out” but the subtext was “because you’re creepy.”

    5. Mimmy

      A former online classmate started her introductory board posts (on the first week of class) with “Greetings and Salutations!”. Ugh! (I hope to goodness she’s doesn’t read AAM!)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        A college friend would occasionally walk into the dorm cafeteria and join our table saying “Green things and salivations!”

      2. A Little Odd

        Any time a person uses “greetings and salutations” I hear it in the voice of Christian Slater. I assume all uses of it are ironic and/or movie references.

        Whatever helps you through the day, I guess.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch

      My dearest former boss uses “Greetings” as her choice, it’s the only time I’ve seen it happen over the years.

      She also signs off with “Cheers” as well.

  10. Shad

    I work in an attorney’s office.
    Recent email I was CC’ed on, from the Plaintiff’s paralegal in a complex case (we represent one of the defendants. This is an email thread in which the plaintiff’s attorney had offered to sic this paralegal on stragglers to a particular task): “I ain’t comin’ after [my coworker] – she’s my buddy.”
    Formality varies hugely by context and by how well the people communicating know each other. “Rules” like those presented by the trainer may make a good starting point with new contacts and when you don’t know how formal to be, but a lot of the time, they’re too much.

    1. OP

      Well said! “Rules like those presented by the trainer may make a good starting point with new contacts and when you don’t know how formal to be, but a lot of the time, they’re too much.”

  11. gobgobgreb

    i tend to use “hi (name) to open all my emails, and close with either “thanks” or “best.” but if i’ve been emailing back and forth with someone a couple times, it usually becomes more like instant message and we’ll end up dropping the greetings and closings altogether. you’re right to point out that clients or first contacts have different rules, but adding this much formality and stress to shooting off messages to coworkers seems unnecessary.

    1. hermit crab

      The vast majority of non-reply emails that I sent and received at my old job (a consulting firm with several hundred employees) opened with “Hi [Name]” and ended with”Thanks” – even with clients! I guess we were all just being horribly unprofessional with each other…

    2. RUKiddingMe

      I hate “best.” Best what? Best regards, all my best, best wishes, best ravioli in town? Best what? It’s like it’s…unfinished.

      ::steps off soapbox::

      1. Melly

        I use “Best” sometimes and I don’t even like it. Whenever I write it, I think, “And who am I trying to be here?”

        1. The New Wanderer

          I’m that way with “Cheers.” A pretty good number of my colleagues use it and I just can’t. I tried, it’s just wrong for me.

          Annnnnnnnd scene,
          – The New Wanderer

          1. Drew

            “Cheers” feels like I should be taking a shot after reading your email. I’m not necessarily opposed, mind you, but some of those people email a LOT and I still have to drive home.

          2. miss_chevious

            I feel like “cheers” is like the kiss-kiss greeting — you can get away with it if you come from a culture where it is the norm, but if you don’t it comes across as weird and awkward.

      2. ZuZu

        Slightly off topic, but I’m a recruiter and I stopped using “Best” on emails to candidates once I read here how many people hate it! I now use “Sincerely” with external emails. I still use “Best” internally with my coworkers, bc I think it’s friendly, but more often am just doing a “thanks” or my name with no sign off. You’re changing minds from your soapbox :)

        1. Le Sigh

          I know people who hate “sincerely” (which I use) and others who hate warmly, regards, whatever. I don’t think there’s one right answer.

          I never really used “Best,” but ever since the launch of the “Be Best” campaign, that’s all I can think of when I see it.

          1. RUKiddingMe

            And see I think “sincerely” is really the best if one is actually sincere.

            Do we really feel warmly, actually offer best wishes, or kindest regards? Those seem almost disingenuous to me.

            And well I already made my point about “best” as a stand alone.

      3. Delta Delta

        I got a “Best, Lucinda” from someone I’ve known for about a hundred years. I laughed and laughed, because the subtext was basically “Eat Shit and Die, Lucinda.” I’d rather she just say that, because then we’re all being up front about things.

  12. Stavia

    I’m still getting used to the fact that openings and closings in emails are a thing at all! When I started my career, the To: line was considered the opening and the “From” line was considered the closing. Why would you have to write an opening when the intended recipient is right above the text?

    This shifted in about 2006-ish, when I started working with lot of folks from India who did use openings and closings. Now everyone uses it. I still have to remind myself to use them, and am always relieved when an email thread gets long enough that we all drop the openings and closings.

    1. ZSD

      Interesting! Was a professional setting your first experience with email? I first used email at home in high school, when my parents and I had a shared email address (just like we had a shared physical mailing address), and we definitely started each email to my older brothers in college with, “Dear,” and ended them with, “Love.” I didn’t encounter the bare form of emails until at least college, maybe grad school.

      1. Stavia

        Yep, I’m old enough that I didn’t use email much until I started my first adult job in 1996. I had an email account in 1994-ish from college, but I rarely used it (and never used it to communicate with loved ones).

        I’m mostly used to it, though I still get tripped up when folks from Korea and China send me marketing emails with the opening “Hi dear”.

        1. Jules the 3rd

          Hunh – I used email in 1987, and we used ‘Hi (or Hello) Jane’ . It was basically a letter, just typed instead of written. Except for the ones that were ‘meet me in 15 after the orc kills me in Rogue’, or ‘I just got a vorpal sword, make it 25 and/or come watch!’.

          (emails between terminals inside the school went fairly quickly, and were rare enough that people opened them immediately.)

    2. Maxmillian

      It is exceedingly poor form to send mass emails without a greeting. Otherwise whomever you are requesting to action a particular item will not know the email is addressed to him/her. So the email gets ignored.

    3. noahwynn

      I started my first job with email in 2002 and we never used openings/closings either. It was easy to see who it was from/to. If you CC’d someone it meant that it was just for their information and no action was required. I don’t know exactly when it became common to have a salutation and closing in emails, but it seems redundant.

      1. NotAnotherManager!

        Probably depends on industry, too. Attorneys have tended to see email as substitute to a formal letter, so greetings and closing have always been a part of my work email culture. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of internal correspondence from various organizations (yay, discovery!), and it tends to be very much dictated by company culture. I’ve seen many organizations that mirror ours; I’ve seen others that were much sparser.

        I’m just glad those awful GIF/JPG logo signature blocks seem to have fallen out of fashion in lieu of stylized text that you can click on to email/call the person.

    4. Not Me

      That just seems odd for professional correspondence. It’s kinda like assuming the name and address on the envelope are enough and you don’t need to start a letter with a greeting and end it with a closing and your name.

      1. Stavia

        Early email clients like Pine and Unix mail didn’t lean into the “letter” metaphor very hard. It was much more like a stack of memos, not a letter you were writing (thus, “inbox” where you would presumably triage your daily memos).

        Then Outlook came along and made the “letter” metaphor pretty explicit, which is I think where greetings and closings became standard.

    5. Lily Rowan

      That’s interesting — it sounds like basically considering the email a memo, so you’ve got the to/from/date/subject and then just get to it. Versus seeing that info as the envelope of a letter.

      1. Stavia

        Exactly! Early email clients basically treated emails like a stack of memos, not a bunch of mail.

  13. bunniferous

    I use good morning/afternoon/evening but end with /thanks.

    If it is someone I interact with a lot, less formal. In my industry it very much matters depending on who you are addressing, with too formal as much of an issue as not formal enough.

    1. BossLady

      I’m a big fan of good morning/good afternoon as a nice middle ground between overly formal and overly casual.

      1. Arjay

        Do we all agree that you use the appropriate time of day for when you are writing and sending the message?
        I regularly get messages that say, “Good morning/afternoon, Arjay” as if they’re trying to anticipate when I might be reading the message. It’s odd.

  14. musical chairs

    I get emails from a colleague where my name is italicized every time he uses it. He’s so nice and professional and competent in person and he does this to everyone and it still makes my skeleton want to jump out of my body every time. If I was subjected to an email chain where each correspondence started with “greetings”, I’d be calling the police.

    1. IL JimP

      usually using italics in text is used to indicate sarcasm, maybe he’s trying to tell you something lol

      1. musical chairs

        Hahaha maybe! I go back and forth between reading it as if his voice is getting deeper and louder like he’s suddenly leaning into a microphone mid-sentence and reading it as if he’s whispering into my ear directly while rubbing my back. Both of which I hate for different reasons!

      2. Former Admin turned Project Manager

        My given name is Karen. Seeing my name in italics is the height of sarcasm, thanks to the current accepted meaning of the name.

    2. irene

      i can’t for the life of me remember which it is, but there is a whole subsection of literature where proper names are italicised in print. Early Modern English, maybe? (around the Restoration era – Aphra Behn, Pepys – or shortly after) or it could be a specific era of French literature.

      anyway, i wonder if that colleague just enjoys that stylization and has adopted it??? it’s so strange but i could see someone reading it in a Norton and deciding it’s their official affectation.

      1. musical chairs

        It’s specific enough that I’m afraid he reads this website and will recognize my complaints. He’s seriously the nicest person, I hate how irrevocably angry this whole thing makes me

    3. Marthooh

      Hmmmm. Perhaps your colleague suspects that “musical chairs” is not your real name.

      1. musical chairs

        Ah yes, both he and you have discovered my heretofore imperceptible lies! Hahahahaha

  15. Sara without an H

    I think part of the problem is some confusion over what, exactly, email replaces. Is it a substitute for written business letters? Or is it a substitute for a phone call?

    If the email is thought of as the digital equivalent of a business letter, then some of the things the “trainer” said might make sense. If you think of it as more like a phone-call-with-convenient-transcript, then her requirements are way over the top.

    Full disclosure: I veer toward the business letter model only when writing for the first time to someone I’ve never met (“Dear Mr. Darcy”), and the less formal telephone model after we’ve established contact (“Hi, Fitzwilliam, I need your receipts by Tuesday”).

    1. cmcinnyc

      Yes to this. When I have first contacts with people outside the US, I’m very formal (at first). When I have first contacts with people outside of NY, I’m lightly formal but go warmer. In NY, to the point–no one wants to read a long email. In the office, the fewer words the better, like a text (it’s an email because I need the paper trail).

      I absolutely hate wading through people’s hearts and flowers in email. I am perfectly fine with “you just want something from me,” because you do! We are not friends! We are business-ing!

  16. sam

    I think this can be very much a generational thing as well – when my dad and my stepmom were first dating, she actually thought I didn’t like her because I ended emails “abruptly” – as in, with no “signoff”. Whereas I was just treating these VERY INFORMAL emails closer to texting – a conversational back and forth that just…didn’t require that sort of thing.

    Of course, once I learned that she was reading WAY too much into how I [didn’t] end my emails, I started adding signoffs to them at least some of the time.

    Anyway, it’s worth trying to figure out who your audience is and how they may react to these things. It almost never *hurts* to add a “Thanks!” or “Best!” to the end of your messages, unless it would be truly weird in context.

    1. fposte

      Yes, the more an email is part of a conversation, the less the formal markers appear. So the first email might be “Hi, Sam, blah blah blah, thanks, fposte” but the followup might just be “Yeah, totally, we’ll go that way. Thanks.” But if I talked to you every day anyway, you might not even get the “Hi, Sam”–it’d be a straight dive into “Here’s the attached thing” or “Were we doing the canopy in blue?”

      1. NotAnotherManager!

        This has been my experience as well. Once you’ve done the formalities in the first email, you can get down to business without fear or coming across as curt.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Yeah it may be a different in generations and the adapting from long-hand penned letters to a digital email.

      I know that my aunties and my former boss would be hurt if I just said “Nice to hear from you! Glad you’re good.” and then hit send without a “Love” or “Yours Truly” or even a “Sincerely”.

    3. Meh

      My older stepmother even puts an address and signature on texts. “Dear Meh, this is Step. Blah blah. Gratefully, Step.” Drives me crazy.

      1. Jennifer Juniper

        What the heck is with “gratefully”? Thank sounds weird unless she’s thanking you for doing her a favor.

  17. Eman

    I think the frequency of contact is a major influence here, if you’re back and forth in a discussion with someone there’s no need for any openings or closings. But if you rarely email the recipient, and your point is to make a complaint or inquire about a problem, adding a greeting comes across as friendly. I had to give feedback to a colleague who came across really badly in email because she never ever started her emails with a simple hello, and often her email was a rant about a problem so a “soft opening” takes the edge off. IMHO anyway.

  18. saby

    Good timing, because just yesterday I read the chapter on ‘How Conversations Change’ in the new book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rule of Language. Strongly recommend the book in general, but that chapter also discusses the generational differences in using “hi” or “hey” as a greeting in business communications (and why young people these days don’t feel very comfortable using “dear”).

    Highly recommend!!! (link to follow in reply)

    1. hermit crab

      That sounds so interesting! I’m in my 30s and feel deeply uncomfortable using “dear” in a business setting (or really for anything other than writing to my nonagenarian grandparents).

      1. Jules the 3rd

        I’m around 50, and it’s uncomfortable for me, too. Too many years *not* using it…

      2. Mimmy

        Good to know I’m not the only one! “Dear” seems so outdated nowadays.

        Saby – I’m definitely going to check out that book

      3. GS

        Mid thirties here, and although I use “Dear” when I have to it feels unprofessionally personal when the rest of the language in the email is not extremely formal.

    2. Anonymooos

      Oooh I finally got my pre-order of that delivered last week! Can’t wait to dive in. No spoilers, please! (jk ;) )

    3. Djuna

      I’m reading that book right now and it’s wonderful. Heartily second your recommendation.
      (I haven’t gotten to that chapter yet, I’m still at emoji :) )

    4. Mimmy

      Heads up for those considering the Kindle version of this book – it is apparently crashing the Kindle app on iPhone and iPad. Haven’t seen anyone say the same about the regular Kindle version.

  19. Salty Sam

    For myself and the company I work for, it’s very normal for someone to start an email with just “Hi [your name]” or even just “[Your Name]” and then close with “Thanks” and/or “Regards” or, if they’ve emailed you frequently enough, they just jump straight into the content without addressing you formally. My boss doesn’t even always bother addressing and signing off his emails to me anymore, more often than not they just come straight with his instructions. At first I thought it was a bit abrupt/curt, but now I’ve gotten used to it and recognise that it’s just his style and he does it for efficiency. There are no hard rules about how to open and close your emails, all depends on your context, but if you’re not familiar with the person or the context then it’s always best to err on the side of being more formal first.

  20. The Man, Becky Lynch

    Hi is fine! But I won’t lie, I grind gears at “Hey” that some people have started using. That’s too casual but “hi” is fine.

    1. Sara without an H

      I don’t grind gears over it, but I don’t use it. Just a reflection of my geezerhood…

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        I only grind gears because the only time I’ve ever had someone who didn’t grasp “office norms” in a very casual office could not be broken of the “Hey” habit.

        I told him nicely the first handful of times and then just started saying “Don’t say “hey” when you email customers and don’t say “hey” when you answer the phone. Ever.” So it’s kind of One of Those Kind Of Things.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch

            Yeah…

            We answered the phone with “Hello, this is Name!” and he always picked it up with “Hey this is, Dingleberry!”

            As a customer service rep…I can’t wrap my mind around it either. We were in a cube farm and he could hear us pick up, he didn’t even answer phones for the first couple of weeks so he could get the ordering process down first and yet still, it didn’t sink in to say “Hello” and not “hey!”

  21. Perpal

    I can only think these rules are for more formal emails as allison suggests; ie, reaching out to another professional at a different institution, or a higher-up, or a client, etc. Doesn’t make sense for internal team emails where “re: BigClient meeting – plz schedule 1pm (date) thanks”

  22. Hixish

    I was told I was rude and unprofessional because I was emailing back and forth with the AVP of our department and in the last email from me, I didn’t say “Hi [name]” because we’d already sent at least 5 emails back and forth.
    Of course the AVP doesn’t tell me this. She gets the Assistant Director (my direct supervisor) to tell me. He tells me “it could be that you’re young but…” and I stopped him. I’m not that young and I’ve been working in government jobs for 9 years and EVERYone I’ve EVER worked with (full-time positions) is older than me. I’ve been told it’s generational. “You guys aren’t as polite as…” and again, I stopped him. We’d already been talking to each other – it didn’t make sense to keep saying “hi…” at the beginning of EACH AND EVERY email. But it doesn’t matter.

    Each email must say “Hi/Dear/Good morning/whateverthehell [name] and end with a “thank you/regards/best/whateverthehell”

    So, it’s whatever your office culture is. I will say that I was warned about this my first day here. Our AVP is very… she only cares about how things look, not how they run.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady

      So, I guess AVP would like you to greet and introduce yourself every time you speak as well? And sign off with a big cheery “Have a great day, I’m Hixish, by the way”.

    2. Delta Delta

      Perhaps this is when to bust out the Hamilton-style, “I am honored to be your obedient servant, Hixish.”

    3. Not a cat

      Ugh, She (AVP) sounds like a delight.
      My emails to my boss and CMO generally go:
      Email 1- Hi (CMO Name)…..Thanks,
      Email 2- Hi Again…..Thanks
      Email 3- (no greeting)…..Thanks

      Boss and CMO don’t use salutations–but do say thanks. I know they don’t care how I email them, it’s just the way I’ve always done it.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood

      I must admit my signature line’s now “Thanks,
      $RealName” in Outlook’s reply-to font color, and THEN the official name/dept/contact info section. Just so I can’t forget with someone who cares.

  23. Wintermute

    I judge my norm off the people I’m corresponding with, I start with “Hi team, […] regards, Wintermute” and if they send back “Please release the job for production” without formalities I’ll just respond something like “Job released, ended ‘OK'”.

    Some people always include salutations and closing and their signature, other level-3 support people I work with we’re close enough a quick “as per our skype conversation, I restarted the virtual machines” is just fine.

    you can pretty much figure out how your organization does things and mirror their level of formality. I typically match their tenor as a conversation goes on and let them be the one to set the level of formality unless I’m writing to someone way above my pay grade then I will usually stay a half-grade above them. For the record I see the various levels of formality as, roughly:

    A) Full named salutation (“Dear Johnathan Doe”), full closing with your signature and company sig line. B) informal salutation with their name (“hi John”), signed with first name and company sig line C) “Hi” or omitted salutation, signed with just the company sig line or just your first name, and maybe a ‘thanks’ or ‘thanks in advance’ D) just the text without any social niceties at all (“Please release the stack” “released the stacks” etc).

    At my company using A-grade all the time would sound really overly formal unless you’re talking to someone seriously senior and even then VPs and eVPs go by short names all the time, and we’re in a fairly conservative industry (financial sector)! B is my sweet spot in the IT department, lowering slowly in formality to D as the thread goes on and on, by entry number 40 that hour typing “hi john, reattempted the job release, job failed, can you let me know what to do next? –regards, Wintermute” gives way to “I re-ran, it failed, please advise?”

  24. Alienor

    That’s bonkers. At least 95 percent of my work emails start with “Hi [name]” or “Hey [name]” (if I know them well) and end with “Thanks,” and no one’s ever had a complaint. The only time I use formal salutations and closings is when I’m emailing someone I’ve never spoken to before and/or someone who is relatively important, in which case they may get a “Dear [name]” and an “All the best.” I do know a few people who have an auto-signature with a formal closing, and it always feels super weird to get to the end and see “Best wishes, Jane” from someone I’ve worked with for literal years.

  25. Amethystmoon

    We receive a lot of computer-generated e-mails where I work, so there’s often no “hi” or names. However, some of the computer-generated e-mails start with “Congratulations!” and it’s for something totally mundane, like getting an item code.

  26. Namelesscommentator

    I can see the trainer’s side of this, depending on who the training was intended for. When I work on career readiness with teenagers (& some very early career adults) I give clear guidelines and explicit examples because I recognize that they don’t always have the judgement and experience for when informality is appropriate.

    The given instructions is exactly the information I expect from a professional email training, I just also expect the room to be full of people new to the workforce and not managing a small team.

    1. EventPlannerGal

      Agreed – going by the name, I feel like this training session was perhaps really designed for less experienced workers, a “Work Email 101” type thing? Sometimes that type of training will lay out overly prescriptive rules just to get everyone on the same page before they start learning when they can mix things up.

    2. OP

      The training was not for people new to the workforce, but the trainer has in the past taught college students. You may be on to something.

  27. Akcipitrokulo

    A *formal* email – sure. If I’m being that formal I’ll stick to rule Dear (not a name – sir, madam, etc) ends yours faithfully and Dear (name) ends yours sincerely. But… for that level of formality I’m probably either applying for a job or REALLY angry with you!

    1. BossLady

      Seriously. If I sent an email to my direct report with that level of formality, I think they would definitely read it as I was angry/they had done something seriously wrong.

      1. Wintermute

        Exactly!

        And there’s no modern way to read “I, remain, your faithful and obedient servant” without it coming across as dripping sarcasm.

  28. no, the other Laura

    How weird. Though, email is such a strange thing and varies sooooo much company to company.

    What I usually find is that if you are telling someone bad news or giving tough feedback that can’t be handled in person, no amount of being polite and adhering to formal etiquette will save you if they are just bad people. If they are good people, it will go OK even if you wrote, “Hey Fergus, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but in order to do this we will need a $500,000 change order – it’s a lot of scope. See attached. Cheers, Lora”

    I went from one job where people actually said they looked forward to my emails because they liked the practical down-to-earth explanations and discussion, to another where I was repeatedly scolded for sending Rude Emails that….weren’t rude at all, but said very clearly (not even bluntly, just clearly, with detailed explanations of the rationale) that I needed to see more information in order to make a decision to act. And then in my very next job everyone went back to liking my emails just fine. At this point it’s very red-flaggy to me when people harp on email etiquette to this level of detail, because it says they care more about style than substance, to the point that they shoot the messenger.

    1. Wintermute

      how bad is your breath if you need to requisition half a million dollars of mouthwash?!?! a lot of scope indeed!!

      and you hit it on the head. One thing people do when they MUST CRITICIZE is if they can’t attack the message they attack the media. It’s the workplace version of ad hominem attacks– if they can’t defeat your rhetoric they’ll try to defeat your character/morals/ manner of speaking/whatever else. Not to get political but that is definitely a realm you really see a ton of language attacking because it lets someone be suitably vicious without having to actually prove someone wrong.

  29. not that kind of Doctor

    This is hilarious to me as I have on multiple occasions received email from coworkers (ok 1 coworker) which just said, “dope.”

    1. Environmental Compliance

      *snort*

      And I quote a recent email I sent: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO (with project approval attached, for which we had been waiting for a while)

      The response: awwwwwwwwwwweeeeeeessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssome

      1. Rob aka Mediancat

        Nice to meet you, Mr. Flair. Didn’t know you and Mr. Mizanin were working together.

    2. Matilda Jefferies

      I forwarded an email to my boss the other day, with the comment “Um…” as my only addition. Sometimes there are just not enough words for what you want to say!

      1. NotAnotherManager!

        We joke that “FYI” covers a lot of ground.

        FYI, there is some crazypants coming your way.

        FYI, we FINALLY got this done!

        FYI, I did what you asked and there are additional to-dos I’ll need to handle.

        FYI, I have really ticked off one of your peers and I’m sorry but wanted you to hear it from me first.

    3. Amber Rose

      I can’t find it now, but I once sent an email to a customer and the answer was “awww yisss.” :D

    4. Moray

      My boss responded to an email I forwarded him (about how sadly our department was not going to be able to do the thing we secretly really didn’t want to do) with “whomp whomp.”

    5. Seeking Second Childhood

      Five years ago or so I got one from the marketing brand manager that just said “Word.” I totally derailed, because I’d sent him a PDF for final approval and thought he was asking me to send source file but we don’t work in MSWord and…
      I called my co-worker over and was soundly laughed at and told I needed to start watching TV again. Sigh. He was approving.

      1. Wintermute

        since I got the online version of Office now, I gave my family my old version disks. Word to your mother.

  30. L-C

    My paralegal starts all of her emails to internal and external clients with “Greetings (name)” and I find it cringe-worthy, but since it’s a personal style thing, I haven’t corrected her on it.

    1. Falling Diphthong

      I expect “Greetings” to be followed by “Person of Earth; take me to your leader.”

    2. pleaset

      To external clients I think you should tell them to stop. If it’s making you cringe, it probably gives that impression to others too.

    3. NotAnotherManager!

      One of my senior paralegals starts their emails this way, and I don’t care for it at all — but it also feels very nitpicky to correct on someone who otherwise does outstanding work. I assume that their attorneys would have told them to knock it off, were it problematic for them.

  31. Hey Karma, Over here.

    Greetings and salutations to my fellow members of the Commentariat,
    I wish I had the ability to spin an asinine preference into gold while going through my work day. I can see the infomercial about the rise of her business etiquette course…
    So, not only did you convince those who worked with you that you must be electronically messaged with the modern equivalent of an engraved invitation, but you parlayed that compulsion into a series of seminars for which people paid money.
    Like real freaking money. In the era of companies cutting costs with hot desking, employee provided electronic devices, digital automation of repetitive processes, this absolute loon took up people’s work time to lecture about email etiquette.
    Wow.
    Gotta go. I prefer writing in pencil so I have to figure out a way to monetize my demand for everyone to complete business correspondence in pencil.
    Best regards,
    Karma

  32. MsMaryMary

    We just had a similar edict at work to use greetings and closings in all our emails. “Hi” is considered okay, but just starting someone’s name or not greeting is not. Exclamation points and emojis are considered unprofessional as well.

    First of all, I’ve been sending professional emails for nearly 20 years. I think I have a sense as to when a very formal email is required, and when it’s fine to send a less formal, friendly email. Particularly when responding to someone else’s email. If they sent me a quick, one sentence response it seems odd to respond with a formal greeting and closing. Also, part of my job is client relations, so I need to build relationships over email. Sometimes a little smiley face or an exclamation point indicates a little personality or friendliness via email. Do people overdo it? For sure. I also have a few coworkers whose email responses via their phones resemble modernist poetry. But all of us had to sit through a lecture instead of management talking to specific people.

    So, I’m using formal greetings and closings in my emails and have given up emojis (at least on the emails my manager is copied on). I’m keeping the exclamation point because “Thanks!” is different than “Thanks.”

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House

      I worked somewhere where, if you did not include enough exclamation points, you’d be considered cold/antisocial/unwelcoming/poor team player.

      I basically reverted to sending emails that had an exclamation point at the end of every sentence.

      “Hi Fergus! I’m so sorry to hear you are unwell! We can reschedule the meeting when you’re back! Feel better!”

    2. The New Wanderer

      On your last point, I realized that if I’m emailing someone to ask for something specific (a document, an answer, whatever) I’ll sign off with “Thanks!” If it’s just an FYI email, I sign off with “Thanks,” But never just “Thanks.” because to me that reads as abrupt somehow, probably because of how I’d say it aloud compared to the other two. The punctuation conveys whether there’s actual gratitude.

    3. restingbutchface

      Who was it who said using exclamation points was like laughing at your own jokes? Because yeah, that. I am old and cynical and I just think, please calm down, we are talking about booking a meeting room.

  33. Environmental Compliance

    I guess the email I once sent to a coworker saying “Oi, [Name]!” probably would have been Super Unprofessional.

    (I was on the phone with them at the time, and it was in the middle of a good-natured discussion about some errors in a report their direct reports send to me, and they cracked up laughing at it.)

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

      I have been known to begin emails to my team with “Hey, y’all!”

      1. Environmental Compliance

        Hey, I do that too! And if it’s something that was awesome (whether awesomely awful or awesomely good), I do have a tendency to just put “Ya’ll, (yadda yadda)”. Heh.

  34. Falling Diphthong

    I could see a bit of nuance where your first ever email to someone would include a bit more formality, plus some context and softening language. But once we’ve established “Who the heck are you, and why should I bother replying to you?” most of my business emails are:

    A: Hi Falling, Text of email -Thanks, Person
    With the occasional:
    B: Text! Where is thing! -Person

    And my reply to B would often be an unadorned “Here you go” or “It’s 37 right, 16 left” or whatever else would be the quickest way to convey the information.

  35. Jubilance

    This is a “know your audience/workplace” kind of thing.

    I just skimmed the emails in my inbox, including the ones I sent, and the vast majority all have some type of opening (Hi, Good morning/afternoon, Team, etc) and I usually close with “Thanks, Jubilance”. The only time I don’t is when I’m having a super quick, IM-like conversation with a close teammate or a friend. Otherwise it’s costs me nothing to start an email with “Hi Beth” before I launch into whatever thing I need to share or ask about. To me it’s just like a phone conversation – I wouldn’t call someone and just launch into asking them a question, I’d greet them first, and I’d say some type of goodbye when we hung up.

    My husband works at a different company and he did not use openings & closings in his emails and he totally got dinged for it. Eventually I told him to add “Thanks, (Husband Name)” to his email signature so that he wouldn’t forget to put it there, since it was so important to his company culture.

    1. Jules the 3rd

      Yes, this. I’ve had ‘Thank you, Jules the 3rd’ as part of my .sig since I started. It’s just so much easier than typing it every time.

      You can actually put the greeting in the .sig too, but I vary that enough that coding it in would cause more trouble than it’s worth. (50% ‘Hi Jane’, 40% ‘Hello Ms. Eyre’, 10% Really Specific)

  36. Chevron

    I find the beginning and ending of my emails vary depending on who I’m talking to. If it’s someone outside of my organization, I tend to stay fairly formal (Good morning and Thank you). If it’s someone within my organization that I don’t know very well, the initial email is formal and the subsequent ones are more informal (Hi and Thanks). Finally, if it’s someone within my organization that I deal with regularly and someone I am comfortable with, my initial email could be formal or informal (seems to vary). However, in subsequent emails, I either continue in an informal format or drop the beginning and ending and just provide a reply as if I’m having a verbal conversation with them.

  37. info scientist

    In most places I’ve worked, the “Hi Name,” format has been standard. But then someone started using “Hi, Name.” and then more and more picked that up!

  38. Booksalot

    One of my colleagues has started whining his e-mail intros when he needs something from me. He is always months late at getting back to me on my own stuff, so I guess he thinks typing extra vowels makes it less hypocritical?

    Hiiiiiiiii Boooooooks, Can you send me the thing [right the hell now], Thanks, Fergus

  39. a good mouse

    I have a friend who signs all his work emails “Exuberantly” instead of “Thanks” or “Best” – totally fits his personality.

  40. beagle mama

    My company has a European base – HQ is in France, my Brand’s HQ is in the Netherlands. To a tee, all of my European colleagues start their emails with “Dear Fergus/Jane”. I admit it threw me off. I tried the “Dear” salutation and it just didn’t feel natural, so I went back to “Hi”.

    1. old foof

      That reminds me – I worked at a Danish company and everyone signed emails with “BR, Name”. BR was “best regards”.

    2. LawLady

      I once received an IM from an Italian colleague that started with “Dear LawLady, I hope this message finds you well.” An instant message! But I recognize that formality it just more common there, and now am a bit more formal with my Italian and French colleagues, so as not to appear terse. (Though it’s an international company, so I’m sure those colleagues also recognize that Americans are less formal.)

    3. cleo

      I worked closely with a couple Kenyan colleagues based in Nairobi, on a web dev project. In my experience anyways, Kenyon English tends to be much more formal than American English, at least in written form. It took me awhile to get over my knee jerk reaction that I was somehow in trouble when I received emails like this:

      “Hello Cleo,

      I trust you are well.

      Kindly review the web requirements attached.”

  41. LawLady

    One thing I’ve noticed is that over-the-top formality has a tendency to read as very young and inexperienced. Like when interns address everyone as Ms. or Mr. It just sounds like a teenager addressing an adult. Since I look and sound quite a bit younger than I am, I try hard to avoid other ways I may seem young, so I’m especially conscious of how my tone may be reading.

  42. Melly

    Reading through all of these comments and thinking about my own habits has me realizing I have an overwhelming personal hierarchy/set of rules for which greetings/closings I use and when. Weird ones. Such as, if emailing back and forth with someone in a shortish time frame, I will use different closings in the same email thread just for the sake of variety.

  43. E

    Loving this whole conversation since recently I was supposed to teach high school students “proper” ways to address formal emails and I was like, “Ugh, why do we as humans put so much thought into email greetings and sign offs.” Here children just learning about the working world, I bequeath you a new workplace anxiety for your future.

  44. Michael Valentine

    I use “Hi” for just about every message. Also, unless they’ve signed a previous message “Prof. X” or “Dr. Y” I don’t use titles. I send requests to people who are big shots in the field–99% of them are very informal.

    If it’s internal, I’ll sometimes say “Hey” or no greeting at all. And the only closing I avoid is “Best.” That one rubs me the wrong way. You aren’t sending me your best, so stop saying it!

    I once corresponded with an assistant who used French abbreviations (Mlle, for instance). I laughed so hard at that one. After working with him for awhile, I realized he was being tongue in cheek, trying to spice up what is a mundane task. I loved it.

  45. mostlymanaged

    I feel like even with clients, it’s more about following their lead than adhering to strict rules– if they are emailing you with like, “hey whats up” you don’t want to respond with “My dear correspondent and compatriot, Count Villanelle Consuella the Fourth, I hope my greetings find you warmly this day, as I wish to offer you a deliverable.” (Obviously, even if your client is super casual, you want to remain professional, but I still think it’s fine to open with “Hi,” to a client if they’re relatively casual with you! The rule of being a bit more professional than the client applies here, I think.)

  46. Midwest writer

    I see several comments from folks who think just a name as a salutation or lack of salutation reads as brusque and I’m wondering if your opinion would shift if you thought someone was responding from a phone versus a computer? When I’m sitting at my desk to email, I’m likely to use a greeting of some kind, but if I’m shooting back a quick response, I probably skip all the words I can, because I hate typing on my phone. But honestly, first contact gets a Hi Name and a Thanks at the end, but more than that seems excessive and unnecessary to me. (I often use email to set up interviews, ask for photos, all kinds of contact, and almost all of my emails are with people who do not work at my office, if that’s helpful context.)

    1. Aurion

      I give a lot more leeway to those writing on mobile! Even with swipe texting, my mobile text messages leave a lot to be desired.

      That being said, I think it’s not necessarily that “name only is brusque” but “name only is a breaking from the usual pattern, and that is brusque”. My keyboard-written emails to my frequent contacts are usually “Hi/hello/morning/afternoon [name], blah blah, Thanks, Aurion” – so on the casual side of professional. When I go from that template to “[name], where are the TPS reports?” it’s a break from pattern and I think that drives the brusqueness home. It’s so little effort typing in opening and closing via email I’d have to be really PO’d to skip it.

      1. Midwest writer

        I think the fact that I work at a computer all day makes me hate mobile typing even more. So many typos!
        Would skipping a salutation a few emails into a chain/conversation still strike you as brusque? My first contact with someone tends to be a Hi Name or Hey Name … but after that, I treat the email more like a conversation than a letter. It really never occurred to me until this question and the comments that people would react so strongly to emails without salutations.

        1. Aurion

          Multiple emails deep into a thread, especially if it’s during the same day? I think it matters less then. But I think the way you phrase the email body changes the tone of the email a lot.

          So

          “where are the caramel teapot invoices? This is the third followup, I need them today to clear the shipment” would be brusque, and intentionally so on my behalf, because I am PO’d that this routine request has taken a week+ and my shipment is about to get held.

          vs

          “Thanks a ton, PO attached, let me know if you have questions!” I wouldn’t read this as brusque whether as the sender or recipient, especially if we’re six emails deep into the thread.

          1. Midwest writer

            Good point. I tend to use thanks a lot in my emails, so that probably changes the tone for most recipients, too.

    2. Antilles

      I think most people’s opinion would shift, yeah.
      It’s actually part of the reason why some people specifically keep the “Sent from my Mobile Device” (or whatever) auto-signature, because it’s a clear indication that you just cranked it out quickly so there might be some minor typos or grammatical errors.

  47. coffee cup

    Oh, I see your trainer has been to my workplace! In my team, we’re expected to write ‘Dear’ and ‘Best wishes’ to each other. EACH OTHER. The person sitting next to me! I once wrote ‘hi’ to a client (because I knew that would be fine with them) and felt like I’d majorly rebelled. I’m in my 30s and have used email for years, so I know exactly how to be professional while also being friendly, but not where I work! It drives me up the wall. It’s like pseudo professionalism in place of actual management.

  48. Matilda Jefferies

    Some of these are super old-fashioned, like if we were sending emails from the 18th century. I just can’t imagine using “cordially” in any other context!

    Cordially,
    Jane Austen
    ~~~
    sent from my iPhone

    1. Oxford Comma

      I think this is a know-your-audience thing. The only one that seems overly formal to me is “cordially.” All the others, I’ve seen. “Respectfully” albeit with a certain limited context.

      I’m in academia and we have people here who get really fussy about their titles. If I’m emailing a dean, I would probably initially address the email, “Dear Dean [Last name]” unless I was close friends with her. Only if she signed a reply by her first name, would I respond with it in a greeting. MDs typically like you to call them “Dr.” Residents can get really snippy if you leave it off. There are some professors (some millennials no less) who want to be called “Professor [Last name].”

      But it depends. If I’m emailing within our department, it’s all first names and more casual salutations like “Hi.” I would probably omit a closing other than my name. Maybe add “thanks” if I’m asking for a favor.

      1. Lily Rowan

        Oh god, in my corner of academia, people really want you to call them by their first names, but I have a terrible time doing it in email, so I do get more formal and write, “Dear Dean Whatever,” even if I should call them their first name.

      1. meggers

        YES! I keep hearing “I have the honor to be your obedient servant, A.Ham” in my head…

        1. pleaset

          What about this:
          “Sir, I am yr olde and true ffriend and Servt. in Almousin-Metraton,”

  49. Peanutbuttersally

    I had a manager once, that required salutations on all emails sent along with what she thought was proper spacing. It had to be:
    Good Morning Jane,
    {space}
    Do you have the reports ready for me?
    {space}
    Sincerely,
    Sally

    She would actually send me emails back saying…”watch your SPACING PLEASE!”. It drove me nuts.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I wouldn’t last there.

      I saw some old requirements from before I existed and my current boss took over and this was the kind of stuff that the former leadership had in place. I noped right out of there.

      1. Cedrus Libani

        When I was fresh out of college, I lived in a cheap shared house full of other barely-adult Craigslist randoms. One housemate came home quite upset. She had a new job (receptionist at a law firm IIRC), and she’d been given an earful about an “unprofessional” email she had sent. Upon reviewing the email, she couldn’t figure out what she had done wrong. She made me look at it. I didn’t see anything wrong either.

        A few days later, she was home early. Her supervisor had come stomping in, saying she’d done it again, and she needed to send out a corrected email with a groveling apology if she wanted to keep her job. She insisted that the supervisor first explain what she’d done wrong. Supervisor explained, as though speaking to a rather dim child, that Housemate had not arranged the addresses of the cc’ed email recipients in order of their status within the firm; this was unacceptable. An animated conversation followed. Housemate quit. Loudly.

        Good for her, too. I wouldn’t have lasted any longer than she did.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          Woah, Nelly! This one is keeper, I file it away in my memory box off truly OVER THE TOP self importance.

          And the fact they didn’t even frigging point this out as the reason in the first place and just told her she ef’ed it up and rant rant rant smash.

  50. Asta

    She would hate my team then. We all start emails to each other with “Hey” and “Hey gang”. Also, there are gifs. Many gifs.

    1. Cranky Neighbot

      My own team just sh!tposts on Slack all day.

      (I know swearing is okay here, but it’s not allowed at my job, and guess where I’m posting from. :P )

  51. Alex

    If I am adding someone to a chain of emails I might start it like this.

    “+NewName

    What is your thought on the topic below?”

    I also have “Regards,” in my outlook signature so it is always there. I never have to think about it.

    If I feel really lazy I will add a line or two at the end and type “Sent from my cellphone” hoping that people excuse brevity because of that.

  52. PretzelGirl

    At a former company we were required to send an email to every email we received. We of course didn’t do this because what you do?

    Hi,
    Here is XX

    Thanks!

    You’re Welcome!

    No, thank you!

    No, no, no. Thank you!!

    ….and so on and so forth. Everyone pretty much ignored it, unless you communicated with the CEO, who prompted the rule.

  53. Jennifer

    My Dearest Fellow Ask A Manager Commenters,

    I hereby decide that all of my comments going forward will be fancy. Just super fancy.

    With Warmest Regards,

    Lady Duchess Jennifer the Third

    1. Heidi

      Esteemed Commentariat,
      Yours of the 29th is received. I do recall one of my colleagues using “Greetings” as her epistolary salutation with great effect. It suited her character admirably. I regret that “Cordially” as a a close has never been used among my acquaintance.
      I remain, as ever, your obedient servant,
      Heidi

      1. Jennifer

        Dearest Heidi,

        I agree. ‘Cordially’ is for the unwashed among us. Not for us fancy folk.

    2. Amber Rose

      Greetings Your Grace,

      I will attempt to match your fancy commentary with an equivalent level of fanciness.

      Yours Faithfully,

      HRH Amber Rose

      1. Jennifer

        Lady Amber,

        I am forever grateful. I hope my fanciness lives up to yours.

        Forever in your debt,

        Duchess Jennifer

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen

      *passes the Strepsils*

      (also British, and I Understood That Reference)

  54. Aggretsuko

    I really don’t want to agree with the trainer because I think the whole thing is stupid, but I have had people throw shitfits at me/complain to my boss if “Hi Anai” isn’t starting out every ever loving damn email. If I don’t put their name every time, they are INSULTED…which is dumb, especially after a series of emails. Like they don’t know who it is by now?!?!?

    1. Librarian of SHIELD

      I mentioned this above, but the supervisor I had who was like this said that leaving off the greeting made the message more transactional. Like, Murray in accounting doesn’t care about me as a person, he just wants me to do stuff for him. And truly, in a lot of workplaces, Murray in accounting really *doesn’t* care about you as a person, and he really *does* just want you to do stuff for him. But in most workplaces we tend to perpetuate the polite fiction of at least pretending to care about our coworkers as people and not just as people who do stuff we need for our jobs. So, if the version of that polite fiction that my coworker needs is that I greet them at the top of an email, it seems like a small price to pay to keep the wheels greased and keep our professional relationship running smoothly.

  55. Delta Delta

    As many others have mentioned, this seems like a know your audience sort of situation.

    Just throwing this out there, also. I hate receiving an email that closes with “Thx” It is actually not at all harder to write “Thanks” than to write “Thx.” It says “I’m soooooooo busy I can’t type 3 more letters, but you’re suuuuuuper important to me.”

    Also, I recommend John Mulaney’s Netflix special where he talks about signing with “Warm Regards.” Hilarious.

  56. Cranky Neighbot

    Greetings OP,

    I’m not sure that I’ve ever received a work-related email from anyone working in my field (not a student or someone from a different field) that followed these rules. I believe that following these guidelines would make your writing look stilted. If it’s out of the norm for your field, it would make you look out of touch.

    Writing in a way that’s comfortable to read out loud is usually good. Writing something that would be at least somewhat normal to say out loud adds a natural, warm tone to your writing. It helps your recipient feel that they’re talking with another normal human being.

    Best Regards,
    Cranky Neighbot

  57. Justin

    Sigh. I totally agree, yet I was told I need to include these greetings to make my emails more professional. I tend to be very matter of fact.

    So now I add “good (time of day)” and they leave me alone, but I’m mad about it.

    1. The New Wanderer

      So, like a Mad Libs? :-)

      It makes me happy to think of a template email that goes like:

      (salutation) (colleague’s name),
      Do you have the (noun)? I would (verb) an update when you get a (noun).
      Good (time of day),
      – (name, optionally yours)

      1. Llama Face!

        Now I want to fill that in like a real MadLib…

        (Salutations) (Yzma),
        Do you have the (squirrel)? I would (poison) an update when you get the (wrong lever).
        Good (midnight),
        (Llama Face!)

  58. Earthwalker

    I was taught to start formal mail on nice stationery with “Dear ” and end with “Sincerely,” or “Yours Truly,” or even “Your Obedient Servant,” but I find those awkward for business mail. My manager or client may not be dear to me at all. On a message like, “Your report is already a day late,” sincerity doesn’t describe the emotion, and I do not want to suggest that the receiver owns me. If the report is really late, “Respectfully” or “Cordially” might be less honest than, say, “Angrily,” so perhaps the formal closure should be left off altogether. For the digital age I prefer starting with “” if I know it, or “Hello” to a group or to replace the stuffy old “To Whom It May Concern” when I’m writing to an office and don’t have a name. I like ending with “Thank you” if there’s something that the receiver has done or may do for me for which I am grateful, but on an email like “Your report is late,” “thanks” makes a silly closure. Just “” will do. The old Victorian ruffles just don’t fit modern email.

    1. Amber Rose

      If it’s a customer, the first email gets a “good morning/afternoon” and “regards.” After that if there’s an email chain I don’t bother because how many times do I need to wish someone a good morning in one conversation?

      If they’re international customers, which in this case means anyone not from North America, the opening is Dear Name, and the ending is Kind Regards, always. It’s a cultural thing I guess.

    2. A Little Odd

      I love a good passive aggressive “thanks in advance” (or even, if I’m really irritated with their previous lack of competence TIA) when reminding someone of something they really should have done already.

  59. char

    This trainer didn’t go far enough, IMO. If you’re not signing off all your emails with “Bon Voyage”, I don’t know what you’re doing.

    Bon Voyage and Warmest Regards,
    char

  60. Aquawoman

    One thing that occurs to me here on the more-informal side of the fence (when communicating with my team and the usual suspects), is that we don’t use Slack or any other kind of IM. So sometimes email functions that way, like “hey, I’m working on that thing but got delayed, is it ok if I get it to you by COB?” “Yeah, did you ever find out the pertinent fact we were discussing?” It’s more of a conversation and less of correspondence. I think the use of names and salutations increases with distance.

  61. Lexi Kate

    I think the trainer is right for formal emails (to clients, boss’s, or starting a project emails, emails that will be kept for training or as notes). If you are responding to an email chain, or are emailing with a friend or close colleague then Hi is fine, I think you should always end the email with something.

  62. Faith

    Also, can we please drop “friendly reminder” from our business email lexicon? It’s so annoying to receive “This is a friendly reminder to submit XYZ…”. For some reason, it has become a standard way of reminding someone to do something, and it feels both passive-aggressive and infantilizing. How hard is it to say “Please, don’t forget that TPS reports are due tomorrow”? Or if something is past due, just go ahead and say that instead of “friendly reminding” me that I was supposed to do it yesterday.

    1. Aquawoman

      +1 That’s the kind of thing where I would actually generally assume it was a friendly reminder but when they SAY it’s a friendly reminder, I think either it’s not actually a friendly reminder at all, or someone is walking on eggshells. I am frankly delighted to be reminded of things because that way, I forget less things.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen

        +1 and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a client to chase for details of when a thing will be completed (though it may not be their business whether it has been started yet)

        “I note that we are still waiting for” or “I do not appear to have received” also leaves room for “huh, we sent it on Friday, have you checked your PO box?” or indeed “we can’t complete the report without the data from Fergus” or “does this mean you actually finally have signed off on the proofs?”

  63. Gandalf the Nude

    So, same deal for job applicants? I recently started taking on some recruiting/phone screening duties, and I was kind of thrown off by the folks that don’t use any kind of greeting or signature at all, not even a “Hi Gandalf.” I was job searching very recently, and it never would have occurred to me to be that casual(?), at least not without the other person doing so first. So far, none of the positions have required a particular amount of polish, so I’ve wondered if maybe my expectations are off.

    1. Oxford Comma

      Oh, I think for job applicants, you very very much want to begin with a formal email and if I don’t know you, I don’t want to see “Hi, Oxford,” I am going to expect to see “Dear Ms. Comma.” At least initially.

      That’s a whole different thing from some email that’s going to Ted in Accounting.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen

      I think it’s difficult when you’re sending to an unnamed email account (e.g. hiringATbigcorp.com) rather than a named contact (janesmithATbigcorp.com). In the first instance there isn’t a good modern digital convention equivalent to the old-fashioned wet-ink “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sirs” so I’ve definitely seen recommendations to omit the awkward salutation altogether and plunge straight in with “I am writing in connection with the Teapot Guru position ref. TG12345 and attach my resume.”

      I think I’ve seen the commentariat recommend “Dear Hiring Manager” to show that you know how business correspondence looks, but I don’t think I like that either. What should one do when you’re sending your application to a department rather than a named individual – on request rather than on spec?

      “Hi Gandalf” I would think definitely too familiar (is that a more apt term than casual?) and I would expect “Dear Ms the Nude” until you’d replied as Gandalf.

      1. Oxford Comma

        For my corner of academia (US), it’s Dear Search Committee or Dear Human Resources Officer or Dear Hiring Manager. If it’s one of those places where you’re sending an application to an email rather than submitting through a system, you would have the email which can be short (but still should be formal) and then you would attach a proper cover letter, resume, etc.).

        For both, if you know the name of the person, unless you’re on really familiar terms with them, it should be addressed to them with their title (Mr., Ms., Dr. Professor, Dean, etc.) and their surname.

        We almost always say we want some with excellent written and oral skills and if you can’t include a salutation, you’re signalling you don’t know how to write a business letter.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen

          Thanks, that’s useful detail that I will file away for future reference.

          I wonder whether that’s partly a US/UK thing, because we very rarely address people by their job title but always by name if possible (e.g. I know there’s a significant difference in usage of the word “Professor”, and nowadays there are only a very few formal situations such as government proceedings where you would ever encounter someone being addressed as eg “Prime Minister” rather than “Mr Johnson”). That’s a linguistic tangent which I will think about alone and separately.

          However, this does all add to the side of the scale that says “I never want to have to job hunt ever again” //grin// and when I have had to submit applications in the past I’ve typically had a named person to contact, which is a million times easier.

      2. Gandalf the Nude

        To clarify, I’m talking about the point where I’m offering them a phone screen, not the initial application. Like, I send an email saying we’re interested and asking for a few times they’re available to talk, all the niceties and the unwieldy company standard signature. Then when they reply, there’s no greeting or signature or anything, just their answer. So, it’s not an intimidated by the anonymity thing. This is also a new industry for me, though, so I guess I’m wondering if it’s more relaxed than I’d expect. They’ve been about 50/50 once I get them on the phone.

  64. Asenath

    Oh dear. I would fail that training horribly. Now, I HAVE modified my approach to email over the years. I used to put nothing at the start at all – after all, that information was it the “to” box, right? I invariably sign them, though, especially since my work email address is an office one and doesn’t contain my name. I hate it when people with generic email addresses don’t sign their emails. I had a brief sig in case someone wanted to phone or fax me, or couldn’t remember where I worked (although the vast majority of my emails are to and from the same people in the same branch of my organization). That had to be replaced due to a new work policy with a much longer one in all the official colours, but I can’t help that.

    Now, I’m a bit more likely to soften my tone a bit (more flies with sugar, etc), so I might start with “Hi, Jezebel” and end (if I’m asking for something) with “Thanks, Asenath”. Thanks are big with our internal emails – lots of people add them to emails or send emails saying only “Thanks”, so maybe it smooths things a bit.

    Even so, a lot of my routine emails are, in their entirety “X is confirmed for dates A to B in site B. Asenath” followed by Official Signature, complete with Our Vision, links to Facebook and Twitter, etc et.

  65. Drew

    Out of curiosity, I just went back through my work email.

    We are quite the surly bunch, according to many folks up-thread. Greetings and closings are by far the exception, not the norm, unless we’re emailing several people but only trying to get the attention of one. Many of our emails have the tone of “I would just pop by your office and ask you this, but you’re busy/I’m busy/I’m not at the office today/I’ve hit my step count/Other: _____”

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      I didn’t realize we were surly, but yes, unless the email has several on the To: line, but one person needs to especially notice it, there is a greeting perhaps 10% of the time. And that greeting is either ‘hi’ or the person’s name. Signoffs are no more common, other than ‘thanks, name’, especially if you don’t count the ones that have been added as a signature, so they are automatic.

      I do tend to include either my uncapitalized name after a dash, or the first letter of it as my signoff, but I don’t even notice when they are missing in my received emails. Although, it is a bit, well, annoying is too strong of a word, but it’s a slightly off reaction when my grandboss sends a short email with the entire message in the subject line.

      Never does a Dear or Sincerely show it’s head at this workplace! I’ve seen some guesses above that it may be generational, but I suspect the differences are more regional. I’m a geezer and greetings have never been a big thing in emails here in the PNW, in my experience.

      -t

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      For inner office stuff, I’m not bothered much. Also for things that are within a circle of people who know you, again not a biggie really.

      It’s things you send to clients or vendors you only speak to casually that makes the tone come across poorly.

      I knee jerk so hard because I get a lot of awful responses from some accounting teams that follow no structure what so ever. I’ll get a “Becky, We’ll pay it whenever we get around to it. Signed, AP Team.” And I’m like “Gurl, at least say “Hi” first before you tell me to ef off. [Clearly it’s not those exact words it’s usually “It’s stuck in processing and we don’t know when it’s ever going to get unstuck. Byeeeeeee.”]

  66. irene

    but what do i do if i sign off with “thanks” or “thank you” in general but then my email is just THANKS!
    it’s so hard.
    most of my email is asking for things, if only the recipient’s attention, so i settled on “thank you!” as a pre-emptive. but then i actually have to say “Thank you, but also, and finally, Thanks – Irene”

    i have to try extra hard to be succinct/clear and polite in my emails because i’m told that i can come across as abrupt even while i’m throwing too many details at people, and i just can’t do “Best” or “Regards” as a signoff (I’ve tried, it feels sort of passive-aggressive or sarcastic!) and most of the people in my org do variations of “Thanks” anyway. so i’m okay…then i have an email that starts “Thank you, Barbara! That was very helpful. Can you also take a look at this other thing? Thanks, Irene.”

    i switch to just name/initials and then nothing at all as soon as possible (that’s what email signature blocks are for!!!) but i’m never sure when it’s time to switch. and people definitely get talked about if they send emails without proper politeness before it’s time.

  67. Phillip

    This one is interesting because lately I’ve been actively trying to pare down the length of my emails by eliminating salutations for most messages. Formerly I was always too uptight about tone and went way too far in the other direction (lots of “hope its a great week so far” and friendly exclamation points!) which I think hurt the way folks perceived me. Note though I’m a freelancer so it’s a little different than regular intra-office correspondence.

  68. Amethystmoon

    Forget greetings, it’s generally not wise to copy someone’s boss and your boss on an e-mail with a screen print of a supposed error without verifying if it was actually an error first. Maybe actually check in the computer system to see if the task is assigned to the proper person first before copying the entire planet on it?

    1. Close Bracket

      If you always use gender neutral greetings, then you don’t have to stop and think about it when the gender composition of your group changes. Some suggestions:

      Folks
      Team
      All

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      It depends, is this your group of Gents? You’d know darn well if they hire on a woman and to change it up?

      I’m still chaffed that I received a state form that was addressed to “Dear Sirs” though, so don’t mind me.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen

        I had a letter from a government body instructing me to get my husband to write to them confirming he was supporting me financially*. You’d have liked that one**.

        * In the UK you aren’t required to pay back official student loans if your income is modest, currently ~$30k, and it’s validated on your tax payments – the tax office tells the Student Loans Company what your declared earnings are. The SLC wanted confirmation that I had earned nothing in that tax year (two-year child rearing break, and I had this problem in neither of the surrounding tax years where I earned not much but not zero). My declaration would not have done, though. They wanted the confirmation of the MAN OF THE HOUSE and although they knew who he was because of linked tax information they couldn’t write to him directly about my student loans because of data regulations.

        ** You would have liked that one about as much as I did. I did not comply.

      2. GMN

        I don’t use it myself, as I am not a gent, but it is quite common in my heavily male dominated industry.

    3. Dee

      I think it ranges from weird to aggravating when a group’s gender is called out unnecessarily. I’m really, really not a fan of being addressed as one of the “ladies” in a work context—snaps me right out of whatever the speaker is intending to communicate.

      1. The New Wanderer

        Same. I wouldn’t use any gendered salutation at all. They have a lot of baggage and are absolutely unnecessary in the workplace.

        I get “Gentlemen … and lady, of course” once in a while, and it’s pretty darn annoying to be the obvious deviation from the expected and ingrained norm.

  69. Mimmy

    Our director often signs his full name plus job title in emails that are just to our staff of roughly two dozen. This is not part of company signature.

    So it looks like this:

    Thanks,

    Fergus Smith – Manager, TTC

    I give a side-eye to that because it seems unnecessarily formal when you’re just emailing the staff. We interact with him almost every day, so it’s not like he’s some higher-up manager we never see.

    (In this hypothetical, TTC stands for Teapot Training Center)

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      My favorite “LOL WUT” was when I received emails from customers who will include their credentials.

      I was fine enough with “MD” or such because fine, okay I get it, Doctor. But I had someone sign an email as an RN.

      So it was literally like this:

      Hi,

      My order arrived but I’m missing a package of screws. How do I get replacements?

      Thank you,
      Samantha Bananacrackers, RN.

      Bless her heart though.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen

      Right? There’s a difference between an external signoff

      Thanks in advance for your assistance,
      Aloysius von Klinkerhoffen (Gen)
      Technical Lead, Double Spouts
      Teapots, Inc.

      and internal

      Cheers, Al
      Aloysius von Klinkerhoffen
      ext. 2035

  70. Checkert

    I do mildly formal in that my openers are always “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon”. I do this to avoid using names, of which I’ve found people can be sensitive to, particularly when they may go by a different name than what their email address denotes. It’s always easier to avoid all gendered pronouns or potentially off names and just go with the time of day.

  71. Dara

    All I can think about now is B99 and
    “Sincerely,
    Raymond Holt”

    at the end of all his texts.

    1. restingbutchface

      YES, THIS.

      Hello Kevin, it is me, Captain Holt.

      (Shouldn’t it be I not me? Anyway…)

  72. MissDisplaced

    Eh! There certainly ARE times to write more formal emails in the standard letter format.
    But for every day communication to your team? Naaaa!! I usually start mine with “Hey Guys,”

  73. What the What

    Hallelujah! Glad you have dispelled something that was ingrained in me by a former employer. I worked for a (creepy) technical college where the superintendent required us to use a salutation in EVERY email. We were branded unprofessional if we didn’t. This place felt like a CULT and there were many creepy red flags. I wish I’d known about AAM then. The superintendent was a Close Talker who would hold peoples’ hands waaaaaay too long when being introduced. (That was him being Genuine Boss.). He would publicly call out (shame) people if they didn’t make eye contact with him. Then the oversharing on Facebook. He actually posted a pic of himself wearing skimpy running shorts doing the yoga equivalent of a backbend. So gross and so revealing. Then the creepy once a week Facebook Live videos. He and his minions would say with a straight face “we are just so lovey here” (that’s a quote.). They also skirted tax law with respect to my employment—I was hired on as a long term temp (contractor) through an employment agency but was required to meet the same requirements as regular employees but was not given benefits, etc. They even gave me business cards!

  74. ChocoWombat

    Related question — I frequently start emails to my office coworkers (who I email frequently) with “Hi —” or just don’t use a salutation. I work in higher ed, and I recently heard someone *not* from my office talk about how crazy it was that some students think “Hi” is an acceptable way to start an email, alluding to it being too casual (as opposed to “Hello”). I was shocked as I did not consider this an overly casual greeting that shouldn’t be used with superiors or whatever. Input??

    1. Spencer Hastings

      I started using “Hello” in undergrad, in situations where I either didn’t know what to call someone (i.e., whether it was OK to use their first name) or it was a shared email address that could have gone to multiple people.

      That’s how I’ve used it, but I don’t know how other people feel about it. I recently reached out to someone for the first time and started my email with “Dear Jane” (based on several factors, it seemed to be the most appropriate way). Her response started with “Hello,” rather than “Dear Spencer” or “Hi Spencer,” so I thought “oh crap, she feels uncomfortable!” But I don’t know for sure if that was true.

    2. KoiFeeder

      I once emailed a professor in undergrad with “Dear Professor [Name]” and got a Fry meme back. I think it really just depends on the professor (and the rest of the email).

  75. big X

    Dearest LW,

    Your query has been the bane of many peoples and it troubles me deeply that it has so affected you. Whilst formality has it’s place in this dismal world of ours, I must tell you that not everything is so monochrome as it seems; for one must know their audience and as the times change, so must our practices. For what this guru says may be true for one abode but staid in another.

    The answer to your inquiry, dear LW? Continue as you are.

    Cordially and warmest regards,
    Live long and prosper,
    Go forth and multiply,
    X

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen

      Um, although I appreciate the joke, “Go forth and multiply” is SIGNIFICANTLY different in tone from the other two sign-offs //grin//.

      May your next movement be a hedgehog,

      Gen. v. K.

      1. big X

        Just letting LW know that they can have fun, esp if they have to write all work messages as if they are addressing the queen!

  76. Spencer Hastings

    A lot of those sign-offs would make you sound like some kind of robot, but “Respectfully” really takes the cake.

  77. chickaletta

    Well, it is all context and who you’re emailing. If they’re senior to you, or if you’re trying to show respect for them, or if you’re asking an out of the ordinary request, then using formal salutations will come across better than just “Hi” which can seem curt or naive. I say this as an assistant who works in a c-suite where I’ve seen emails addressed to my boss with just “Hi” or “(Name),” and it makes me cringe a little because they stand out against the normal formality. But if you’re equals and/or you email frequently and have established familiarity? Sure, then Hi is just fine. (For example, I have used “Hi” to my boss in emails, but if I email other execs I will usually say “Good Afternoon/Good Morning”.

  78. Cari

    Even if one prefers greetings, Greetings, Cordially and Regards and its cousins need ne go back to the 1960s – and take “Best” with them. Greetings is further complicated by the brain going to “Greetings, Earthling”

  79. Cari

    Also, if I have two people with action items in the same email it would be:

    @ (depending on if they rely on the OUtlook ping) Name 1: what’s the status on Arya’s modeling gig?

    Name 2: When is Wakeen’s appointment

    Other info context relevant to both of them.

    TY

  80. Someone commenting

    If I used these in my normal day to day office email chatter where 90% of my work purpose emails are, people would think I’m stuck up and way too formal.

    This is like saying nobody should ever wear anything other then a tailored three piece suit for office work. Sure there are jobs where that is necessary, but it’s far from all and far from even most.

  81. General von Klinkerhoffen

    I just received a (work) email addressed to “Dear Klinkerhoffen” which made me smirk in the context of this discussion.

  82. Joe in Frederick

    Army/Navy: to your superiors, Very Respectfully or V/r, to your subordinates, Respectfully or R.

    Yet another formality that isn’t covered in inprocessing, but will silently mark you as a disorganized grabasstic civilian.

  83. Bibliovore

    Most of the trainer’s intros are also mispunctuated. Whenever addressing someone directly and calling them by name or title, the rule is to separate their name/title from what’s being said to them by using a comma (often called a comma of direct address). Salutations like “Hello [Name]” and “Welcome back [Name]” fit that category — what precedes the name is being said to [Name] directly, so the name should be preceded by a comma. In things like “Dear [Name],” the “Dear” is essentially an adjective being added to the name, so doesn’t require a separating comma.

    (The usual warning examples are things like “Let’s eat, Grandma!” vs. “Let’s eat Grandma!” In the first, the comma separation means it’s a direct statement to Grandma inviting her to come eat. The second is suggesting to others that Grandma should be the meal.)

  84. Jennifer Juniper

    That trainer sounds like a relic from the Victorian era. Ignore her weird advice.

  85. Jennifer Juniper

    When I write a formal e-mail requesting something, such as a medical record from my doctor, I always use “Thank you for your time and consideration” as the closing sentence. I use this to denote respect for the professional, acknowledge that I am taking up their time by asking for a favor, and to increase the likelihood that my request will be granted. I am very aware that the wrong tone can have very, very bad repercussions for me, especially since I am a woman.

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