Not all email communication is the same or serves the same purpose; therefore, the way in which you open and close your email should be appropriate to the type of email and to whom you are addressing.
When writing for the first time to a person you don’t know, it’s appropriate to use “Dear Ms/Mr Lastname” as your opening salutation. For subsequent interactions, follow their lead.
I always sign my emails with “Lydia”; however, if the response comes back addressed “Ms. Di Francesco” I will address that person as Ms/Mr Lastname until the relationship moves to a first-name basis. (For back-and-forth emails, it’s not necessary to continue using “Dear”.)
I like to use “sincerely” as the closing phrase, but others like “regards” or “yours truly” work as well.
Writing to someone you know
It is appropriate to use “Hello/Hi Firstname” or just “Firstname” for people with whom you already have a relationship.
Although somewhat informal, email is still considered a more formal way to communicate compared to social media such as Facebook or Twitter. It is courteous to continue using the person’s first name at the beginning of the email unless (or until) the email chain becomes more like a “chat”, ie. a quick back-and-forth.
For a closing phrase, you have many options ranging from more formal (“all my best”, “regards”) to informal (“cheers, “talk soon”). In this situation, you can decide which to use based on the level of formality and on your personality.
Personally, I like to use “thanks” as my closing phrase when making a request or receiving information. It’s a quick way to show my appreciation to that person.
Bottom line – There are two main things to consider when choosing your salutation and closing phrases: 1) what is the tone of the email (formal/informal)? 2) do you know the person to whom you are writing? When in doubt, opt for the more formal option.
Question: What’s your favorite closing phrase? Why? Leave a comment below.
ps. This is the first post in a series about using email to communicate. Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting more tips and advice. Stay up-to-date by subscribing to my blog via RSS.