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Common problems for email salutations: “Miss, Mrs., Ms.” and other salutations

When I read emails from international lawyers, here are the common problems I see.

  1. Using “Miss” or “Mrs.” when the reader hasn’t shown that they prefer that title
  2. Using “Dear Madam” or “Dear Sir” to address someone whose name you don’t know

Here is the correct way:

Ms.Mrs., and Miss are all titles used to address women formally

Miss (pronounced [miss]) is used to address a young unmarried woman or girl.

Use Miss if you are writing to an unmarried woman under the age of 18.

Mrs. (pronounced [miss-iz]) is used to address a married woman of any age.

Use Mrs. when you are writing to a married woman who prefers to be addressed in this manner.

Ms. (pronounced [miz]) is a neutral option that doesn’t indicate any particular marital status.

Use Ms. when it doesn’t specify whether the woman is married or not or when a woman uses her maiden name professionally. For example, I go by Ms. Stephanie Schantz because I have not taken my husband’s last name.

Don’t Use “Dear Sir or Madam”

Dear Sir or Madam is to address someone whose name you don’t know. It is old-fashioned and can evoke a negative feeling from the reader.

Instead use:

• Good Morning, Good Day, Good Afternoon
• Hello
• Dear [Name]. For example Dear [Jamie] (when you don’t know if the person has a gender neurtal name is a man or a woman
• Dear Hiring Manager
• Dear Attorney Graham
• Dear colleagues

Don’t use “To Whom it May Concern”

Why? It is overly formal, impersonal and outdated.

Instead use:

• Greetings
• Hello
• Dear Marketing Department
• Hello
• Hi (less formal)
• Good morning, evening,

Implement these tips and become successful in salutations!