Salutation in a Business Letter

If you know the person's name:

Dear Ms / Miss / Mrs / Mr / Dr + surname

Dear Mr Miller

You can also write the person's full name. In this case, leave out the title (Mr/Mrs). This way of writing the salutation is very handy if you don't know the gender of the person.

Dear Chris Miller

If you don't know the person's name:

There are several possibilities to address people that you don't know by name:

salutationwhen to use
Dear Sir / Dear Sirsmale addressee (esp. in British English)
Gentlemenmale addressee (esp. in American English)
Dear Madamfemale addressee (esp. in British English)
Ladiesfemale addressee (esp. in American English)
Dear Sir or Madamgender unknown (esp. in British English)
Ladies and Gentlemengender unknown (esp. in American English)
To whom it may concerngender unknown (esp. in American English)

Business partners often call each other by their first names. In this case, write the salutation as follows:

Dear Sue

Punctuation

In British English, don't use any punctuation mark or use a comma.

Dear Mr Miller or Dear Mr Miller,

In American English, use a colon:

Dear Mr. Miller:

For examples see → Subject.

Ms, Miss or Mrs?

  • Mrs - to address a married woman
  • Miss - to address an unmarried woman (rarely used now)
  • Ms - to address a woman whose marital status you don't know; also used to address an unmarried woman

Note: Abrreviations for Mister, Misses etc. are usually written without full stops (Mr) in British English and with full stops (Mr.) in American English.