Ladies and Gentlemen? Dear Sir or Madam? You need to know how correspondence etiquette is changing


“Denn nichts bleibt, denn nichts bleibt, wie es war …”, dieser Hannes-Wader-Song gilt auch für Korrespondenzregeln. Secretary Today – Professionelles Business English für Sekretärinnen und Assistentinnen – sagt Ihnen, was sich in punkto Anreden und Anschriften geändert hat. Testen Sie jetzt 1 Ausgabe kostenlos!

Over the past months I’ve been receiving letters from you asking about the right forms of address in business letters and emails. Many of you worry that you might get something wrong, because you have noticed that in correspondence from the USA and UK, forms of address are not the same as the ones you learned at secretarial college. First of all, good for you for noticing these changes, and thank you for asking me about them. I have been following them myself, too and wondering when to write about them. So now’s the time.

There are six new forms of address and three outdated ones

I have noticed six new additions, and three salutations are going out of date. The new additions include just writing “Hello” or “Greetings” and addressing an individual or a group of people by their function (Dear HR Manager / Dear Board Members). Use the table below to decide which salutation you need on your letter or email if you want to be up to date.

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Traditional and new salutations for letters and emails

New trend  



Dear Board Members (mainly USA) 

Dear Sir or Madam 

To whom it may concern 

Dear Human Resources Director (mainly USA) 

Dear Sir or Madam 

Ladies and Gentlemen: 

Hello (USA and UK) 

Dear William 

Dear Sir / Dear Sirs 

Greetings (mainly USA) 

Dear Sarah: 


Hi Bill (USA and UK) 

Dear Bill 



Dear Mary