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How to Begin and End Email

Beginnings and endings are a challenge in most activities, but in email getting off to a good start and ending positively will strengthen the communication and increase understanding.

Start with a specific subject line.

Choose the better subject line in each pair below:

1. a. New Phones

b. New Phone Installation: Your Action Required

2. a. Update on Development of Sales Model

b. Status Update

3. a. Summer newsletter

b. 10 Great Tips for Summer vacation

In number 1, the second choice conveys a sense of urgency and action, whereas the first choice falls flat. In 2, the longer title focuses the reader on which update the email is explaining. In 3, you don’t really have much choice. Who would take a?

Next comes the greeting.


Hello, Robin.

• Hi, Fred and Lauri.

• Hi, team.

• Greetings, everyone

• Good morning, Sayed. (If Sayed this message in the morning)

• Jian, we are looking forward to meeting you next week.

• To: Finance and Administration Team

• To all employees:

• David,

• Ruth, Mala and Felicia:

Dear Mr. Mathews

The last five examples must be on a separate line at the top of the message. All the others can be either a separate line or at the beginning of a paragraph.

Choose the greeting that matches your relationship with the reader(s) and the purpose of the message. “Hi” is friendly but too informal in certain situations—for example, in response to a request for a proposal. “Hello” is friendly and professional. “Hey”is too informal and slangy for most messages.

“To” followed by a pronoun like “all” or the name of a group sounds professional but does not convey warmth. Warmth is required in all messages, but please remember that you must always consider the position of the receiver.

Avoid gender-based greetings such as “Ladies.” Even if the group you are writing it is all women, some among them will object to this greeting.

Do not greet people whose name is included on the Cc line. Only greet people whose names are on the To line of the email.

The punctuation of greetings is a topic for discussion. All the punctuation used in the list above is correct. Some people use “Hi team” and “Hello Robin” without the comma, but traditional writers retain the comma. The reason is that these words are in “direct address.” When we directly address the reader, as in “Hi, team” (or in the example that begins with “Jian”) the name is separated from the other words by a comma.

Dear Mr. Mathews” is followed by a colon in a business letter and in an email that replaces a business letter. However, it is also acceptable to use a comma after a

Dear” greeting in a business email.

In a quick exchange of email with someone it is not necessary to continually greet your reader. Compare such an exchange with putting the person on hold on the telephone. When you return to the phone call, you say, “Thanks for holding. I have the information: rather than “Hi Laurie.”

The last sentence of an email is like the last words of a phone call. They may be a quick signoff or a courteous close, depending on the formality of the communication.


• See you in Tokyo!

• Have a great trip!

I will email you in August to schedule lunch.

• Please call me again with any questions

Thanks again for all your help with the design.

• Thank you for your cooperation. We appreciate the opportunity to work with you.

Avoid continually using “Have a great day!” or similar expression as your closing sentence. It became meaningless with constant use and it is a bad fit with email that communicates a policy or serious announcement.

It is not wise to save a request for action or approval until the end of the message. Email readers do not read to the end of a message when they believe they have gotten the main point already.

A complimentary close—yes or no?

Business letters typicall end with phrases called “complimentary closes” such as “Sincerely yours,” “Best wishes,”and “Best regards.” A complimentary close is not required in email. However, business email often uses such a close to sound formal, look professional, or simply communicate courteously.


• Sincerely,(the most formal of the list)

• Best regards, (professional)

• Warm regards, (professional and warm, as you would expect)

• Regards, (less friendly than the other 2 regards choices)

• With best wishes, (or) Best wishes, ( professional)

• With thanks, (professional and grateful)

• Ciao! (friendly and rather informal)

• Cheers, (friendly)

A word like “Greetings” does not belong in a close. It may be used in the last sentence, though, to greet others who might see the message:

• Please give our greetings to Dr. Carr

• Greetings to your colleagues in Systems Research

Although people frequently use “Thanksas a close, it is not standard, and careful writers avoid it. Do not use “Thanks in advanceas a close, because many people find it presumptuous. Rather than “Thanks” or “Thanks in advance,” create a better sentence, such asThanks for considering my request.” Or use “With thanksas a complimentary close followed by a comma.

Advice for those who receive less-than-perfect Email. You will sometimes receive email that is less than perfect, which means you might feel a bit offended by them. My advice to you on this is to get through them and leave them behind. Bring a bright smile to your face and a kind tone to your email reply. Forgive those whose writing was clumsy, abrupt, or annoying. They were merely experiencing moments of being human and imperfect.

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