20 Ways To Start an Email
Updated July 31, 2023
An illustration of a person checking their email on a mobile phone, with communication bubbles surrounding it.
The ability to write clear, friendly and professional emails is a foundational skill for your career. Starting and ending your emails properly can help you build relationships and get work done.
In this article, we cover how to start an email, including tips, several email starters and examples to help you craft your next correspondence.
Related: How To Write a Professional Email
Why starting your email well is important
An email is an important form of communication, just like phone calls and video conferences. You should treat each email as an opportunity to develop mutual respect with your colleagues. By writing a good beginning to your email, you are more likely to make a positive first impression. Such an impression can encourage your audience to read the full message of your email and take any required actions.
Be sure to take some time to consider your audience and exactly why you are writing. Doing so can help you construct a clear communication that builds relationships and moves projects forward. Professionally starting your email can create a positive first impression.
The image is titled Professional Email Salutations the left side of the image shows examples and the right side of the image lists tips.
The left side reads:
"Dear [First Name]"
"Hi," or "Hello,"
"Hi Team," or "Hi All,"
The tips are:
Avoid gendered language
Avoid exclamation points
Avoid casual language like "Hey,"
Avoid overly formal language like "Sir" or "Madam"
Avoid using "To Whom It May Concern"
Avoid using times of day, such as "Good morning" or "Good evening"
Avoid using "Dear [Job Title]” if possible
How to start an email
There are a few key best practices to keep in mind when composing the beginning of your email:
Spell any names you use correctly
Misspelling the name of your recipient can make them feel disrespected—if you haven’t taken the time to learn their name, they are unlikely to trust you’ve paid attention to other important details. To ensure your entire email is read with care and to build relationships with your recipients, be sure to spell their names correctly. If you have been emailing back and forth with them, their name is likely already in their email and/or signature. If not, do a bit of research to ensure you’ve got their name right.
Keep it professional
It might be tempting to seem friendly or excited in an email greeting by using a fun greeting, smiley face or exclamation points. Keep in mind that it’s always best to err on the side of professional and minimal.
Know your audience
You should tailor your greeting to your audience. If you know the recipient(s) well, it can be appropriate to use a more laid-back greeting. Your greeting can also change if you are addressing a single person, a few people or many people. Make sure your greeting matches the people you’re writing to.
What to include at the start of your emails
The beginning of your email should contain the following:
To start an email, you should begin with a greeting. You might do this in a variety of ways depending on your reason for writing and who you’re writing to.
2. Well wishes (optional)
After your greeting, it is optional to include a quick, positive note like “Hope all is well” or “Hope you had a terrific weekend.” This is appropriate if you haven’t written to the recipient for a lengthy amount of time or if you have a close relationship with the recipient. If you know your audience appreciates a concise note with only key information, you might leave this part out.
3. Reason for writing
Then, be sure to include a concise sentence or two about why you are writing. Informing the recipient about the goal of your email can help set the tone for the rest of your correspondence.
Email greeting examples
Here are several examples of greetings you can choose from to start your email. Be sure to select a greeting that applies to your audience and the reason for writing:
When writing to one or two recipients:
Dear [Name] and [Name],
When writing to three or more recipients:
[Group or team name],
When you are unsure of the recipient’s name:
Dear Sir or Madam,
Dear Hiring Manager,
Ways to start an email with examples
Here are examples of ways you might start an email in various scenarios:
When applying for a job:
I hope this finds you well. I’m writing in response to your job posting for the Reception Associate position…”
After completing an interview:
Thank you again for taking the time to meet with me about the Accounting Manager position today. I’m following up with the additional information you requested regarding my portfolio…”
When setting up a meeting:
I’m reaching out to set up a meeting about the upcoming project…”
When introducing new team members:
Hello! I’m writing to introduce you to the newest member of our HR team, Helen Farber…”
When accepting a job offer:
“Hi there Kiran,
Thank you so much for getting back to me. I’m excited to learn about the offer…”
Frequently asked questions
How does the audience affect the opening of an email?
The intended audience of your email makes a big difference in the opening. If you're writing to a good friend that you speak to on a first-name basis, an informal greeting and loose structure might be fine. Conversely, if you're emailing a supervisor, client or work colleague, it's helpful to stay professional.
In all cases, it's important to address your email to the reader by name. In an informal email, you could simply open with "Hi John" or something similar. For a professional email, use "Dear" followed by the full name of your contact. If you're writing to a friend, you can get straight to the point, while in other situations, it's helpful to explain who you are and why you're sending the message.
Are there any email openings to avoid?
When writing emails in a work setting, it's essential to follow strict protocols. While you have some latitude in your choice of opening, there are several practices to avoid. Here are some tips to help you avoid common pitfalls:
Avoid emojis, images and GIFs.
Spell out your words and avoid abbreviations common in text messages.
Remain professional and avoid greetings and phrases that sound overly familiar.
Avoid outdated salutations.
Limit jokes and humorous turns of phrase, as they can sometimes seem out of place.
What should you include in a professional email?
While emails vary widely based on their intent and audience, professional emails generally follow a set format. Whenever you write a professional email, ensure that it contains the following elements:
A subject line that clearly conveys your intent
A header that includes your name and contact information
A formal salutation that follows best practices
The name of your reader if available
An introduction that summarizes who you are and why you're writing the email
The body, in which you address the purpose of the email in detail
An expression of gratitude and a call to action that encourages follow-up
A professional closing followed by your name
What are the rules of email etiquette?
If you want to secure more responses to build better relationships with colleagues, it's important to observe proper email etiquette. Here are some of the most important practices to follow when writing professional emails:
Only write emails that anyone in the company could read.
Try to send and answer all emails within normal work hours.
Keep your messages short and to the point.
Address all of your emails and include a proper closing.
Include your contact information in your emails.
Be punctual in your replies.
Only use "Reply all" when necessary.
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