Email conventions include the ‘To’ field, greetings and sign-offs, and signature blocks.
To, cc, bcc and group emails
- Make sure you address your email to the correct person (obvious, but easy to get wrong!)
- If you’re addressing the email to more than one person in an organisation, think about the order you put people’s names. People can take offence if you get this wrong!
- If you are sending an email to several people and don’t want to divulge all their email addresses, create a group email or use mail merge to send each person a personal email. (Instructions for group emails and mail merge will be in your email system.)
- Use the cc and bcc fields sparingly.
Greetings and sign-offs
The common email greeting is ‘Hi’, but some people use ‘Dear’ for more formal emails.
Most people like to be greeted by ‘Hi’ or ‘Dear’ plus their name when you are emailing them for the first time. Many people find being addressed just by their name too abrupt. If you are emailing someone you don’t know for the first time, you may decide to use their full name. Occasionally, you may also add Mr, Mrs or Ms.
When you are engaged in an informal email conversation, you can drop the greeting if you know the person well, or the email is becoming an ongoing conversation. Another option is to use the person’s name in the conversation.
Thanks, David, that’s a great idea.
If you are addressing several people, you may use a group greeting, such as ‘Dear colleagues’ or simply ‘Hi’ or ‘Greetings’.
Courtesy phrases at the end of an email
Sometimes an email seems to end abruptly and common courtesy statements are:
Contact me if you have any questions.
The most common sign-offs are ‘Kind regards’, ‘Regards’, ‘Cheers’ or even ‘Best’, and what you use depends on your relationship with the recipient.
Some people copy the sign-off of the person they are emailing if that person is in a higher job position or a client.
As with greetings, sign-offs are often dropped when emails go back and forth conversationally between people.
Commas in greetings and sign-offs
There’s no need for commas after greetings and sign-offs.
Use a signature block. Most organisations have their own style for signature blocks. If you don’t work for an organisation, create your own. You may choose to have a full signature block on emails you initiate and just your name and phone number on replies.
Even though it is repetitive, many people put their first name before their signature block because it makes the email more personal.
If you’re a consultant or small business owner, you may include an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.