How to Start an Email: 8 Greetings & Opening Lines + Examples

​​Ready to up your email game? Trust me, I get it.

You’re sitting there, staring at your screen, and the seemingly simple task of starting an email feels like you’re about to walk a linguistic tightrope.

Too formal and you sound like a Victorian era novel, too casual and you’re a teenager texting their pals.

How do you strike the perfect balance?

Stick with me, my fellow email explorers, as we navigate through the maze of salutations, greetings, and opening lines that will have you writing emails like a pro

From “Dear” to “Hey there” – we’ve got you covered. Ready? Let’s dive in!

The Basics of How to Start an Email

You’ve likely faced the blank screen before, unsure of the best way to start an email. It’s common to wonder how to address a professional email or how to address someone in a professional email.

Well, the basics start right there! When you begin an email, it’s crucial to use an appropriate greeting. Your greeting sets the tone for the entire message, so it’s worth taking the time to get it right. If you know the name of your recipient, always include it.

Starting an email with “Dear [Name]” or simply “[Name]” is generally a safe bet. However, in more formal situations, you might want to use their title and last name. For group emails, “Hello everyone” or “Hi team” are suitable options.

Professional Email Salutations
Professional Email Salutations

If you’re unsure of who you’re addressing, “To whom it may concern” can work, but it’s always better to find out the recipient’s name if possible. Remember, the way you start an email can make a big difference in the recipient’s perception of you, so choose your greetings wisely!

What are Email Greetings and Opening Lines

When you’re starting an email, your greeting is your first chance to set the right tone. It could be as simple as “Hello,” or as formal as “Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name.” You’ve probably seen many professional email greetings in your inbox, from the casual “Hi” to the stuffier “Good Afternoon.”

Now, the opening line follows your greeting and serves to guide your reader into the heart of your message. For instance, you might say something like, “I hope this email finds you well,” or “Thank you for taking the time to read my message.”

Email opening line example
Email opening line example

But if you’re looking for a more business-oriented approach, you might start an email with, “I’m reaching out about…” or “I wanted to update you on…” These are just examples.

The most important thing to remember is to keep your greetings and opening lines professional, relevant, and engaging. Remember, first impressions count, especially when it comes to email communication.

Examples of Email Greetings & Opening Lines

Let’s take a look at some concrete examples of email greetings and opening lines for different scenarios:

Formal Business Email

Dear Mr./Mrs. [Last Name],

I am writing to update you on our project status.

In a formal business context, where you’re communicating with superiors, clients, or stakeholders, it’s crucial to uphold the highest level of professionalism. Starting your email with “Dear Mr./Mrs. [Last Name]” establishes respect right from the outset.

It shows you recognize and value their position. The opening line, “I am writing to update you on our project status,” gets straight to the point, which business recipients usually appreciate, as it respects their often-limited time.

Casual Business Email

Hi [First Name],

Just wanted to share the latest updates from our team meeting.

When corresponding with coworkers or colleagues with whom you have a more relaxed, informal relationship, it’s often appropriate to use their first name. “Hi [First Name],” strikes a balance between professional and casual.

An opening line like, “Just wanted to share the latest updates from our team meeting,” invites engagement and communicates transparency, which can strengthen your working relationship.

Cold Business Email

Hello [First Name],

I was introduced to your work and was impressed by…

In a cold email scenario, where you’re reaching out to potential clients or partners you haven’t met, starting with “Hello [First Name]” gives a warm, friendly start to the email. It immediately personalizes the message.

When you say, “I was introduced to your work and was impressed by…” in the opening line, it shows that you’ve put effort into understanding them and their business before making contact, which can help establish trust.

Group Business Email

Hello team,

I have some exciting news to share with you all…

When you’re sending an email to a group or team, addressing everyone inclusively with “Hello team” or “Hi everyone” sets an approachable and collaborative tone.

An opening line like, “I have some exciting news to share with you all,” serves to catch the readers’ attention and promotes a sense of unity and shared purpose within the group.

Email to Unknown Recipient

To whom it may concern,

I am reaching out to inquire about…

When you’re unsure of the recipient’s name or the email is meant for anyone who might be reading it, starting your email with “To whom it may concern” keeps the email professional and universally applicable.

The opening line, “I am reaching out to inquire about…” clarifies your reason for reaching out, offering clear direction for the reader.

Job Application Email

Dear Hiring Manager,

I am applying for the role of [Job Title] as advertised…

When applying for a job, you might not know the hiring manager’s name, but addressing them as such using “Dear Hiring Manager,” shows respect and directness.

An opening line such as, “I am applying for the role of [Job Title] as advertised…” instantly clarifies your purpose, demonstrating your interest in the position and the initiative you’ve taken to apply.

Customer Service Email

Dear valued customer,

Thank you for reaching out to us. We appreciate your patience…

Customer service interactions require a gentle and courteous tone. “Dear valued customer,” shows respect and appreciation, reminding them of their importance to your business.

An opening line like, “Thank you for reaching out to us. We appreciate your patience…” reassures them that their concern is being handled seriously and professionally, helping to build customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Networking Email

Hello [First Name],

I recently came across your profile, and I am really impressed with…

Networking is all about establishing connections and building relationships. Starting an email with “Hello [First Name]” helps make your email feel more personal and less transactional.

An opening line such as, “I recently came across your profile, and I am really impressed with…” shows genuine interest in their work and opens the door for further discussion.

The most popular greeting phrases
The most popular greeting phrases

How to Start an Email: Common Mistakes to Avoid

Let’s delve into some pitfalls to steer clear from when you start an email. Knowing how to begin an email professionally can be a game-changer.

Email Salutation Etiquette
Email Salutation Etiquette

Starting an email professionally is an art that demands careful consideration. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can increase the effectiveness of your communication, making your emails more likely to get read, responded to, and appreciated.

How to Start an Email to Different Audiences

Let’s explore how to start an email to a variety of audiences. Because every email you send might not reach the same type of recipient, it’s crucial to adapt your approach based on who you’re communicating with.

Understanding your audience helps in picking the right tone, greeting, and opening line. By tailoring your email’s start to the recipient, you ensure your message resonates and improves your chance of getting a positive response.

Most effective email opening word
Most effective email opening word

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Start an Email

As you’ve journeyed through the ins and outs of how to start an email, it’s natural to have a few questions lingering. Let’s tackle a few that frequently pop up to offer even more clarity on this topic.

Is it okay to use 'Dear' in a professional email?

Absolutely, “Dear” is a tried-and-true way to start a formal email and continues to be an appropriate and safe choice, especially when addressing someone for the first time or in a formal context.

“Dear [First Name]” or “Dear Mr./Mrs./Dr. [Last Name]” can help strike the right tone in professional email greetings. But remember, the degree of formality you should use will depend on your relationship with the recipient and the context of your email.

How should I start an email if I'm unsure of the recipient's gender?

This can be a tricky one, especially if you’re engaging in international correspondence or dealing with names unfamiliar to you. If you can’t determine the gender of your recipient from their name, it’s perfectly fine to use their full name after “Dear,” such as “Dear Alex Johnson.”

Alternatively, you could use a gender-neutral greeting like “Dear [First Name].” It’s always better to avoid guessing and potentially getting it wrong.

Is it acceptable to start an email with 'Hi' in a professional context?

Yes, it can be. While “Hi” is more casual than “Dear,” it is acceptable in many professional contexts, especially if you have an established relationship with the recipient. It provides a friendly, approachable tone while still maintaining a level of professionalism.

For example, starting an email to a colleague or a business contact you’ve interacted with before as “Hi [First Name],” is entirely appropriate. However, for more formal situations or when addressing higher-ups or unknown recipients, it might be safer to stick to more formal greetings.

Email opening line preview
Email opening line preview

Key Takeaways on How to Start an Email

In wrapping up our deep dive into how to start an email, we’ve covered quite a bit of ground.

From the basics of email composition, we’ve recognized that addressing someone in a professional email is no small detail but a crucial aspect that sets the tone for our entire message. Understanding this can make the difference between an email that is opened and read or one that gets lost in the shuffle.

Our journey took us through email greetings and opening lines. These phrases, which might seem insignificant, can, in fact, play a significant role in establishing a connection with the recipient.

We examined different scenarios, from emails to colleagues to more formal letters to potential employers, and offered practical examples to suit each situation.

Not forgetting to mention common pitfalls, we highlighted some frequent errors to avoid. Sending an email without personalizing the greeting, using overly casual language in a professional setting, or getting the recipient’s name wrong can hinder our communication efforts.

Lastly, we turned our attention to the often-overlooked importance of knowing your audience. Whether you’re writing to colleagues, customers, or potential employers, adapting your greeting and opening line to fit the recipient can drastically improve your email’s effectiveness.

To achieve the best results with email outreach, we recommend using a professional email automation software

13 best cold email platforms rated and compared

Picture of Edgar Abong

Edgar Abong

Edgar is a skilled software developer with a passion for building and evaluating software products. His expertise in software development enables him to provide in-depth evaluations of software products. He can draw out insights about features, functionality and user experience.

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