What’s in a Name: Writing the Perfect Email, part 2

business writing

Last week, I discussed the 4 elements of the perfect email, and this week, I want to go more in-depth on one of those elements–addressing the recipient of your email by the correct name. 

This one is a little personal for me. 

Hi, I’m Dr. Jones, Ph.D, and I have come to expect that most people I interact with will, most likely, never register that fact. Even if I introduce myself that way. Even if I sign my emails to them that way. Even if I correct them once or twice. For some, I am and always will be, Miss Jones or Mrs. Jones. 

Now, most of the time I don’t feel slighted by the mistake. Often, I just go by my first name, so no “Dr” necessary. It’s only a title after all and one that can be more confusing than helpful outside of an academic setting. 

“Are there any doctors in the house?!”

“Me! Oh… you mean medical doctors. Yeah, nope.” 

But the experience of constantly being denied my title, the fruit of my years of labor, has taught me to be extra careful when addressing others. I don’t want to accidentally disrespect someone, especially through email, where the written word is all they have to judge me on. 

And if you want to make sure your email is perfect, you’ll address your recipient correctly. Consider these tips to make the most of your email greeting and sign off:

What’s your Relationship Status?

Your opening greeting, or salutation, should be as formal or informal as your relationship with the person you’re communicating with is.

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Be as formal or as informal as your relationship with the recipient.

If you don’t know the person, and they’re above you in the professional hierarchy, be more formal. Use “Dear” or “Hi” to greet and “Sincerely” to close.

If you’re on a first name basis with the email recipient, if you share jokes in the lunch room or drinks after work, you might open with “Hi” and close with “Thanks” or “Best.”

Recipient’s Wishes

If the email recipient has a title and has asked you to use that title, USE IT. Even in email. If, for example, they’ve introduced themselves as Dr. Smith, then address your email to Dr. Smith.

If, at any time, the recipient requests you be more familiar, then you can change your email greetings to reflect the recipient’s wishes and your evolving relationship.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

I think, I hope, this last one goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway.

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Don’t offend the recipient of your email by using the wrong name or omitting their title.

Spell the recipient’s name right. Check and double check! You don’t want to accidentally offend them! Or accidentally turn their name into a curse word. Or accidentally call them by the name of their worst enemy. 

See, anything could go wrong, so double, triple, quadruple check that spelling! 

Write Email with Confidence!

You now have a basic foundation for writing a perfect email!

It’s possible to dive deeper on this subject, but if you prioritize respect for the recipient of the email while you’re writing, you’ll increase your chances of finding a willing audience for your message after you hit “send.” 

Do you have any bad email stories to share? Email pet peeves? I’d love to hear them! 

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