How to Start an Email (Salutations, Greetings, and Examples)

By Amy Gilmore, updated on September 22, 2022

The best way to start an email depends on the message and recipient. You are lucky if a recipient even takes the time to open your email.

The average person receives more than 120 emails daily. If you use the wrong salutation or opening sentence, they are unlikely to read your entire message.

Keep reading if you want to know how to start an email with a professional, engaging opening. Make sure you also read our guide to ending your email.

Why Engaging Email Introductions are Important

Sending an email is the preferred method of communication for most professionals. Of the more than 120 emails that most people receive daily, very few are opened and read in their entirety.

The first few lines may be read if the person has to scan all their emails for work. You do not have to write like Earnest Hemmingway, but to ensure that the recipient takes the time to read your message, you must capture their attention.

When You Should Start an Email with a Thoughtful Opening 

A captivating introduction is always important. However, it is more essential when you want someone to:

  • Review a document
  • RSVP
  • Participate in a survey 
  • Give you specific information
  • Help you with a tech support issue
  • Sign a document
  • Send you a payment
  • Provide you with account details
  • Approve a proposal 
  • Make note of important information
  • Schedule an appointment
  • Confirm a meeting
  • Approve a purchase order

Appropriate Salutations to Start an Email 

The salutation is how you address your email. In a professional setting, you must use an appropriate greeting.

Dear Ma’am/Sir

If you do not know the spelling of the receiver's name, you should use a professional generic salutation. While this is acceptable, it is not the best way to address your email because it indicates that you do not know the person well.

Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs.

The best way to start a work email is to use Mr., Mrs., or Ms. and the person's name. If you are sending an email to a supervisor or superior, using a professional greeting is important. It shows that you know how to communicate professionally.

Dear [Department] 

If you send an email to an entire department, you can address it to that team. For example, if you are starting an email to the sales department, you can use 'Dear Sales Team,' or 'Dear Sales Department.'

Dear [Position] 

You can use their position when you do not know the person you are emailing. For example, if you wanted to pitch an idea to an editor at XYZ News, you could address the email, 'Dear XYZ News Editor.

Hi/Hello 

Hi or hello, and the person's name is an acceptable salutation if you know the email recipient. It is a friendly way to address an email. If you do not know the receiver personally, you can use a salutation like, 'Hello Mr. Smith,' or 'Hello Mrs. Jones.'

Effective Opening Sentences to Start an Email 

The first sentence of your message is probably more critical than the greeting. An effective opening lets the recipient know the purpose of the email immediately. However, there are times when it is also beneficial to start an email with a friendly opening line.

I Hope...

Opening an email with a kind sentiment is nice if you are checking in with a client or colleague you have not spoken to in a while. It gives the reader a sense that you care about their well-being.

You can also use similar openings like:

  • I hope you are having a nice day, week, vacation, etc.
  • I hope you are feeling better.
  • I hope this email finds you doing well.

Thank You…

If you are sending a thank you email, it is nice to tell the person within the first sentence. It is direct and conveys your message immediately. You can then include additional details in the email body.

Usually, when you are recognizing someone for something they have done, they will want to read your message. Everyone enjoys being recognized. So, the recipient will likely read your email if you start by thanking them.

Have You Had an Opportunity to…

If you are waiting for someone to do something, a nice way to start an email is by asking them if they have had an opportunity to attend to the matter. It is less harsh than asking them directly if they have done the task.

It makes the recipient feel like you understand that they may not have had a chance to address your concern while reminding them that you are looking for their response.

You can also start with something like:

  • The deadline to buy tickets for our event is this Friday.
  • Have you sent your RSVP?
  • We would love to see you at our event.
  • We are closing our poll on Saturday, we would love your input.
  • You only have three more days to register.

Including specific details about deadlines within the first sentence is a good idea. People who want to participate will know they must register or respond within a specific period.

Just a Reminder…

If you have a pressing matter that you need someone to handle opening with, 'just a reminder,' is appropriate. They know you are waiting for a response, but it does not sound abrasive.

Salutations You Shouldn’t Use to Start an Email

There are a few greetings you should avoid. When you start an email with these salutations, it immediately gives the reader the impression that you do not know them.

  • To Whom It May Concern
  • Misspellings 
  • Incorrect Name
  • Unpersonalized Email Templates
  • Generic Salutations

Opening Sentences You Should Not Use to Start an Email 

When you start an email, certain opening sentences should be avoided. Some of these seem nice enough but depending on the person, they may be perceived as rude or overly aggressive.

You should also avoid using an opening sentence with grammatical errors. You can use a grammar tool or look up the correct grammar for many frequently used terms and sentences.

Nice to Meet You

There is nothing wrong with telling someone it is nice to meet them in person. However, using it in the first line of an email gives the impression that the recipient does not know you.

Many people do not pay attention to emails from people they do not know. So, sending an introductory email with 'nice to meet you' in the first sentence might not be the best choice.

Still Waiting…

Starting an email by telling someone you are still waiting for their response comes across as aggressive. It is better to try to be more understanding. Even if the person was supposed to respond by a specific deadline, it is better to be more diplomatic.

I Know You are Busy, But…

Sending an email, 'I know you are busy, but' may seem nice. You are considering the other person's time.

s, it can also come across that you know the recipient is busy, but you do not care. It is better to tell them why you are emailing in the first sentence. If you want to tell them you appreciate them taking the time out of their busy schedule to respond, you can do that later in the email.

You Need to…

Telling someone immediately that you need them to do something can be rude. Instead, you can give them details about what you need.

If you need something immediately, it is better to tell the person the deadline in the first sentence. For example, 'your contract ends on July 11th, and I see that you have not renewed yet,' or 'the deadline to register for the conference is this Friday, November 8th, 2022.'

Can You Do Me a Favor…

'Can you do me a favor' is not a great way to start an email. Asking someone to do something before you tell them what you need is never a good idea.

It puts the person on the spot before telling them what you need. So, it is better to open with something kind or to tell the receiver exactly what you need in the first sentence.

How Will You Start Your Email? 

There is no perfect way to start an email. Each correspondence requires a different salutation and opening. The best way to determine which to use is to consider how you would like the other person to address you. Ask yourself what information you would when you open the email.

Considering the email recipient helps you craft a personal and well-received email opening. So, the next time you have to send an important email, read it and think about the other person before you hit 'send.' The practice does not significantly impact the time to write emails, but it can go a long way to ensuring your message is read.

Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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