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Business Salutations

By Judy Vorfeld

Recently some­one asked, “Is it still proper to address a let­ter to a com­pany as: DEAR SIR OR MADAM?”

According to The Gregg Reference Manual, Tenth Edition, by William A. Sabin, if you don’t know the names of any­one in a large orga­ni­za­tion, but know there are both men and women, use “Dear Sir or Madam” rather than “To Whom it May Concern.” (Section 1339)

Or, for an orga­ni­za­tion com­posed of men and women, use “Ladies and Gentlemen” or “Gentlemen and Ladies.”

Gregg has many guide­lines, and one of them says (1338c) “Omit the salu­ta­tion if you are using the sim­pli­fied style, and replace it with the sub­ject line.”

I would be tempted to do that rather than write “Dear Sir of Madam.” I sup­pose “Hey, Guys” just wouldn’t cut it.

Seriously, Section 1340s says you can also use the name of the orga­ni­za­tion in the salu­ta­tion using “Dear” or “To.”

Here’s an excel­lent site: General Tips for Letter Writing

And to go to this very valu­able site, click here. It tells about: Spoken and Written Forms of Address for U.S. Government Officials, Military Personnel, Foreign Officials, Nobility, and Religious Officials - cor­rect forms of address for U.S. Public offi­cials, diplo­mats, reli­gious lead­ers, roy­alty, the British peer­age, and mil­i­tary per­son­nel. For each per­son­age the chart gives the appro­pri­ate form or forms to be used in address­ing let­ters, in let­ter salu­ta­tions, in direct con­ver­sa­tion, and in more for­mal introductions.

If you’re inter­ested in address­ing for­mer office hold­ers prop­erly, click here.

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