Tips on Business Email: Addressing the Email
This is long, so I’m breaking this up into three parts: the “who” (addressing the email), the “what” (drafting the message) and the “how” (sending the email). First, I’ll cover the “who”, or what to keep in mind about your recipients.
Address people correctly.
How do you know what’s correct? How do you know whether to write to Kelly Glass starting with a formal “Dear Ms. Glass” or with a breezy “Hey, Kelly!” Here are the tips I follow:
- If you have received an email from the recipient, check to see what term of address and signature she uses. If she begins “Dear Unmana” and signs off with a shortened version of her name (e.g., “Liz” for “Elizabeth”) or with her initials, you can be pretty certain you can address her by her first name or nickname.
- If you haven’t, follow what your company does. Does your CEO sign off with his full name or just his first name? What about your immediate supervisor?
- When in doubt, go formal. I prefer being addressed by my first name, but I wouldn’t take offence if you addressed me as “Ms. Datta”. But if you write to someone who prefers to be known as “Mrs Michael Goldman” and start “Hi Linda,” she might be less than thrilled.
- Building on the last point, if you choose to go formal and it’s a woman on the other end, do you address her as “Miss,” “Mrs.,” or “Ms.”? Unless you know the correspondent prefers otherwise, go with “Ms.” It’s the preferred form for business communication, and keeps personal matters like marital status out of the picture.
Use the "To" Field Correctly.
Why does email have three address fields: "To", "CC" and "BCC"? When do you use which?