Business letter salutation

When writing business letter salutation, always use the name of the individual if you know it.

Dear Amy: (personal friend or close business associate)
Dear Mrs. Rider:
Dear Miss Spears:
Dear Ms. Tyler: (use Ms. If you don’t know the marital status or the preference)
Dear Mr. Farnham:
Dear Dr. Doom:
Dear Sir Elton John:

If you don’t know the name of the individual, address it to the individual’s title in the company and then use dear Sir or Madam: Here is a salutation example:

Head of Human Resource
ABC Company
123 Sesame Street

Dear Sir or Madam:

But please only use this if you really cannot find out the name of the person. Most companies will tell you who the person is. All it takes is a phone call.

If you are addressing to an organization and not an individual, then use the following salutation:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

And if you want to highlight the letter to an individual(s) in the organization, use the attention line as follows:

Attention: Miss J. Fonda, CEO and Mr. M.Jackson, CFO

Ladies and Gentlemen:

If you are writing a letter to officials, see Addressing Business Letters for Officials for more information.

Business letter salutation FAQ

The following are questions I have received on the subject of the salutation in a business letter format.

Addressing two brothers or sisters

by Lolo
(Cave Creek, AZ)

I am trying to write a business letter to two brothers, with the same last name. What is the appropriate greeting for this type of letter?!

Hi Lolo,

You can write it in a few ways:

The formal way is:

Dear Messrs. Adam and Alex Lambert,

Messrs. is the plural for Mr.

If it is a bit more informal, you can also address it as

Dear Adam and Alex Lambert,

Also, related to this question, how do you address two sisters with the same last names?

The answer; Two or more women are addressed as Mesdames, Mmes., or Mses.

An example would be:

Dear Mses. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen,

Hope this helps.


Informal opening of letter or note

I was taught for years that you must open an informal letter or note using a comma between the greeting and the person's name. Is that right or wrong?

Which is correct?

Hi, Nancy, OR Hi Nancy,

Good afternoon, Linda, OR
Good afternoon Linda,


The best way to write an informal letter is to write it as if you are talking. There is no right or wrong with an informal letter.

When you put a comma after a word, there is a pause when you read it. So, Hi, Nancy would be Hi (pause) Nancy. How does that sound to you?

I would personally go with the comma after the name so that there is no pause between the hi and the name. But it depends on how you normally speak.


Letter written to one person with "attention" to another person in that office

If a letter is being sent to a one-man office with an "attention" being addressed to that man's secretary, is the salutation directed to the man or his secretary?

Example. A letter to Attorney Joe Smith with the letter being made to the attention of "Sue". Would it be Dear Mr. Smith or Dear Sue?


The purpose of an attention line is to direct your letter to a specific person within an organization when you are addressing the letter to an organization and not an individual.

Your question and example is actually an inappropriate use of the attention line. Depending on the context of the letter, you would keep one person on c.c.

Based on your example, if I was writing a letter to Joe complementing Sue for exceptional service, I would address the letter to Joe (Dear Joe) and keep Sue in c.c.

Dax Cheng

Using the name of company instead of the name of person?

by Parvane Yousefloo
(Karaj. Tehran. Iran)

May we use the name of company instead of the name of person in greeting part?
Hi Parvane,

Dear (Company Name) is acceptable but I personally do not like it. If you know and is dealing with the individual in charge, it is best to address it to the person. When you address it to the person, you are showing respect to the reader.

If you are addressing to an organization and not an individual, then use the following:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

And if you want to highlight the letter to an individual(s) in the organization, use the attention line as follows:

Attention: Miss J. Fonda, CEO and Mr. M. Jackson, CFO

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Dax Cheng

When addressing a letter is Jr. considered a title?

Which one is correct:

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, Jr. or

John and Joan Smith, Jr.

in this case is Jr. considered a title or is it proper to put Mr. before the name?

It depends. If you are writing to a personal friend or close business associate, you can leave out the courtesy title (Mr., Miss etc).

Jr. is considered a suffix. A suffix follows a person’s full name and provides additional information about the person. A doctor has a suffix of M.D. This is required in formal letters.

Dax Cheng

When to spell out Junior

by Douglas
(New York)

When if anytime are you supposed to spell out Junior in a title or just us Jr.

I'm addressing a letter to a Senator who is a Jr.
Do I spell out Junior in the Title:

The Honorable John Doe Junior


The Honorable John Doe JR.
Hi Douglas,

Many etiquette specialists prefer that “junior” be spelled out. When it is spelled out, the “j” is not capitalized. Do note, this is only a preference as using the abbreviation is still acceptable.


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