If you don’t know the name of the person you are writing to, start business emails with either of the following:
Dear Sir,/Dear Madam,
Dear Madame, is wrong.
If you don’t know whether you’re writing to a man or a woman use:
Dear Sir or Madam,
It is not usual to start an email To whom it may concern. This should be reserved for letters of reference or similar communications when the recipient is an unknown third party.
It is always better to use somebody’s name if you know it. If it is the first time you are writing to someone, use either of the following:
For men: Dear Mr XXXX,
For women: Dear Ms XXXX,
Once you get to know someone, i.e. after exchanging one or two emails or if you meet them in person, it is usually OK to use their first name.
Use Dear Sirs, if you are writing to more than one person even if the group of people includes women.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, is wrong. “Ladies and Gentleman” is only used in formal speech.
The word Dear may be omitted in less formal emails. Instead, you may just open with the person’s first name/people’s first names.
Here are some example opening sentences for emails:
I hope you are well.
I hope you enjoyed your holiday and are finding it easy to settle back in to work.
Thank you very much for your email. I am glad to hear that you and your family are well.
Thank you for your prompt reply.
I apologize for not replying sooner, but I have been very busy these last few weeks.
Thank you for getting in touch with us about XXXX. (Less formal, more friendly)
Thank you for contacting us regarding XXXX. (More formal)
With reference to your email of [date], I would like to bring the following to your attention.
As a follow-up to our phone call this morning, I would like summarise the key issues.
Phrases best avoided:
I hope this email finds you well.
Please be advised as follows.
This email concerns…