How to start an email (with examples)

In this guide we show you how to start an email, the best greetings and opening lines to use in different scenarios, and fill you in on the dos and don’ts of email greetings.

2024-02-21
It will be no surprise if you’ve ever started writing an email only to get stuck just as soon as you start typing the email greeting. For many people email etiquette is confusing, and knowing how to start off an email can be just as annoying as knowing how to end the email. We've got you covered! By following our quick and simple guide, you can start sending emails like a pro.

Table of Contents:

Before you start the email

How to start an email

What to avoid when starting an email

Best email solution

As email writing continues to become an integrated part of our daily life and one of the most common forms of written communication, starting your message with an appropriate email greeting and opening line is vital. The beginning of the email sets the tone, shows professionalism and encourages the recipient to continue reading. Maybe you are wondering how to start an email to a teacher, how to start an email to a professor or maybe you’re looking for the most common professional email greetings. In this guide, we look at how to start the email, greeting and opening line examples and what to avoid when starting an email.

Before you start the email

1. The audience matters Your email greeting should be chosen according to your audience. If you’re sending an email to a colleague you’ve known for a long time, you could use a more relaxed greeting, this compares to an email for a job application where you would want the greeting to be professional and formal. Remember, the greeting changes depending on if you’re greeting a single person, a few or a group of people.

2. Check names and pronouns When addressing the recipient it’s important to spell their name correctly. In addition to getting their name right, it’s just as important to use the appropriate gender pronouns. When it comes to formal email writing, we usually use “Mr.” “Ms.” or “Mrs.” together with their last name – but only if you know their preferred pronouns. If you don’t know the recipient’s gender pronouns it is best to address them using their full name. For example: Dear Lora Huges. This avoids any unnecessary mistakes, shows respect, and attention to detail.

Follow these tips before starting your email.

Also check Tuta’s guide to writing professional emails.

How to start off an email

The start of every email should always contain:

The greeting / salutation

The greeting or salutation should be the very first line of the email. The email greeting is dependent on who you’re writing to, your relationship, and the reason for writing to them. Continue reading to see our list of email greeting examples – we’ve put together a list of the most common, and safe email greetings for different scenarios.

Examples of Email greetings

Email greetings when writing to one or two recipients:

1. Dear name,

Using “Dear” as your email greeting is a safe go-to, especially when you want to sound professional and formal. “Dear” is a formal email greeting that shows respect and formality. It is a safe email greeting for a cover letter, a business letter, or any situation requiring professionalism.

• Dear Mr. Hutter,

• Dear Ashley Whyte,

2. Hello name, or Hi name,

“Hello” and “Hi” are two common email greetings which vary in formality. Greeting a recipient with “Hi” is informal and widely used between colleagues or people who know each other. “Hello” on the other hand, is a bit more formal. While “Hello” isn’t extremely formal, it’s considered to be a widely accepted email greeting which is friendly and straightforward. If you’re wondering how to start an email to a teacher or a professor, a friendly and straightforward “Hello ____,” along with their name would be appropriate.

• Hi Ms. Brown,

• Hello Leigh,

Recommended for further reading: Our guide on how to end an email.

Every good email needs a great greeting!

Email greetings for addressing a team or group of more than two recipients:

3. Hi team, Hello everyone, Dear colleagues,

When starting an email intended for more than two people, a team or group there are a few email greetings that are informal, but widely used and accepted for emails with multiple recipients. A friendly “Hi” or “Hello” followed by “team”, “everyone” or using the department name will pass. If you want to be more formal when addressing your work colleagues, a simple “Dear Colleagues,” is appropriate.

• Dear colleagues / team,

• Hi team / everyone,

• Hello team / everyone,

Tip: When you address a group of people you don’t know well, avoid gender specific addresses – Ladies, Guys, or Gentlemen.

The opening line

After you’ve chosen the appropriate greeting, you need to write your opening line. This is also referred to as the opening phrase or opening sentence. The opening line sets the tone and should also catch the recipients attention. Like the greeting, when choosing the best opening line you must consider who the recipient is, your relationship with them and the intent of the email.

Now that you have the perfect email greeting, take a look at the email opening sentence examples below.

Examples of email opening sentences

1. I hope this email finds you well

This is possibly the most used opening line when sending formal emails. This is an old-fashioned, formal opening line that’s widely used – you could play it safe and use this if you want to be formal and professional.

Other professional and polite opening lines include:

• I hope your week is going well / smoothly.

• I hope you are doing well.

2. I’m reaching out to you because...

The opening line can also be direct and to the point. Starting the email with “I’m reaching out to you because” is direct and it clarifies the purpose of your email. When you state your intent in the opening line, you avoid confusion by telling the recipient the intent of the mail.

Other direct opening lines include:

• I’m reaching out about / to let you know...

• I’m writing to let you know / inform you that...

• I’m emailing you to...

3. Thank you for...

Another great opening line is to express gratitude. If you’re writing an email in response to the recipients actions or deeds, starting the email with a polite, “thank you” always goes a long way.

Other common ways to express gratitude in opening lines include:

• Thanks for…

• I appreciate your help / the update.

• Thank you for the quick response.

The opening line of your email should be clear and direct.

What to avoid when starting an email:

Now that you’ve covered how to start an email, looked at appropriate greetings and opening lines, it’s important to be aware of what you should avoid when starting an email.

Greetings to avoid:

• To Whom it May Concern

• Dear Sir or Madam

• No greeting at all

We recommend avoiding the use of “To Whom It May Concern” and “Dear Sir or Madam”. These are two examples of overly impersonal greetings, that show the recipient you’re not sure who you’re contacting. If you can’t find the recipients name, always do some research and at least try get their job title. For example, “Dear Head of Marketing” would be better than “Dear Madam”.

Unless you are having a back and fourth conversation with a colleague, your email should always have a greeting.

Remember: The email ending is just as important as the email greeting.

Opening lines you should avoid:

The opening line should be effective, catch the recipients’ attention, and encourage them to continue reading. The opening line also sets the tone for the rest of the email, so it’s super important to use an appropriate opening line, relevant to the intent of the email.

Here’s a list of opening lines you should avoid:

• I know you’re busy but...

• Let me introduce myself…

• Please could you do me a favor?

There are some things to avoid when drafting a new email.

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