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How do you write e-mails?

Community Veteran
Posts: 6,111
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Registered: 05-04-2007

How do you write e-mails?

(N.B. I've posted this in General Chit-Chat as I'm after more of an informal discussion than would probably be achieved in Web and Internet.)
Something I've been wondering about lately is what, if any, style rules exist for e-mailing people you do not know - namely customer services people and the like. Whenever I need to write such an e-mail, I never know what do - do I begin with 'Hi', 'Hello' or something more formal, and when signing off should I go for 'Thanks' or 'Thank you in advance', followed by 'Thomas', 'Thomas Kuglin', 'Mr T. Kuglin' or... what?
Which is why I'd like to see what other people do in these situations - I think it'd be interesting to see if everyone has different styles or if there is in fact quite a common way of doing things. For example, here's what I normally do:
Quote
Hi,
<message>
Thanks,
Thomas

...but I often think that feels a bit too much as though the person I'm e-mailing actually knows me... yet, at the same time, I don't like going all formal either. So what do you do? Also, if you feel like posting your age, I'd be interested to see - perhaps different generations do things differently (for example, because older generations might have grown up with more of an idea of writing eloquent letters). My age, for what it's worth, is 21 - well, for another 10 days anyway.
34 REPLIES
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: How do you write e-mails?

I always thought the correct salutation was
Dear Sir or Madam
Lurker
Grafter
Posts: 1,867
Registered: 23-10-2008

Re: How do you write e-mails?

Generally if its somebody I know, start with 'Hi name' on the first message, subsequent replies; straight into content.
First message always has my formal signature on it, and if its a fairly formal message, add in 'Regards' before it, otherwise, just 'Cheers'.
I always add my sig to the first message, so that the person I'm mailing has all my details to hand if they want to call me about the message.
But;
All my messages are from my corporate email address, I suspect if I used my personal address/account ever that I'd be even less formal.
Occasionally I might go for a more formal 'letter' style, but its only for new introductions really.
Community Veteran
Posts: 2,909
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: How do you write e-mails?

I'm 31 and that's pretty much what I do .. at the moment looking for work means I'm e-mailing agencies a bit.
When I was sending work e-mails I used to just finish them with:
Quote
<first name>,
Thanks,
Alex

Sometimes I put my full name if the e-mail is more formal, so just:
Quote
<first name>,
Thanks,
Alex Hunt
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,111
Thanks: 1
Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: How do you write e-mails?

Interesting... you're very similar to me Alex - I too occasionally include my surname, although I seem to do so on more of a when-I-feel-like-it basis than one concerning the level of formality. But what do you do when you're e-mailing someone you don't know - i.e. so you don't have a first name to address it to? Because for me, that's half the complication - which leads me on to...
Quote from: pierre_pierre
I always thought the correct salutation was
Dear Sir or Madam

Well that's the thing - for letter-writing that is the correct salutation, and as you're one of the forum's older members I'm not surprised that's what you immediately think of. But for me, e-mails are somewhat more informal than letters - indeed, I rarely see that used in e-mails.
198kHz
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 3,215
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Registered: 30-07-2008

Re: How do you write e-mails?

If I'm the originator of the correspondence, and I have no contact name, then I use
Quote
"Hi TVLC"
"Hi Plusnet CS" etc.

Regards,
Full name

Just first name subsequently. One of the advantages of email over snail mail is the ease with which one can include or exclude the whole or part of previous correspondence.
If replying, I adopt the style of the original.
I'm 59, m'lud.
Not young enough to know everything
Lurker
Grafter
Posts: 1,867
Registered: 23-10-2008

Re: How do you write e-mails?

Hmm, I suppose it depends on why I don't know their name. :/
If its because its a pool address, say for support or whatever, just Hi or Hello would be my choice.
If its because I know its a specific person, but I don't know what their name is, I'd either address it to their title [Dear HR Director,], or [To Whom it may concern], or [Dear Sir or Madam].
Confuddling business the whole interweb malarkey dontchaknow.
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: How do you write e-mails?

I have just opened up a rusty copy of the Oxford English, an Essential Guide.  Has all the rules for a duke, Archbishop the Queen,  Etc, dear sir but no example of a business letter to a service department to which you dont know the gender, that is the problem.
Normaly e-mail addresses give you a clue but I use a lot that dont, it is a right problem
Yours faithfully
                        Pierre Pierre
or since its you Thomas
Yours truly
                  Pierre
Lurker
Grafter
Posts: 1,867
Registered: 23-10-2008

Re: How do you write e-mails?

@Pierre, do you prefer to be called Pierre, or Pierre?
Or Mr Pierre?
Or Mr Pierre Pierre?
Or PP? Cheesy
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: How do you write e-mails?

Its probably correct to use Mr, but I have always signed mine Christian and Surname,  Used to work form a Large US company and in the last 10 years every body from top to bottom was addressed by there forename.
My of my female acquaintances has been know to call me PP
Moderator
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Registered: 14-04-2007

Re: How do you write e-mails?

Quote from: Be3G
But for me, e-mails are somewhat more informal than letters.

That is my feeling on emails.
Most of my emailing is business related, more specifically to suppliers.
With UK suppliers I generally open with 'Hi'. With overseas suppliers I usually open with 'Hello'
Depending on whether or not we have unpaid invoices I usually close with either 'Kind Regards' or just 'Regards' followed by my first name.
Even my first name is superfluous as I have the server configured to add a full signature including full name, job title etc.
...but it's force of habit.
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Community Veteran
Posts: 1,850
Registered: 11-08-2007

Re: How do you write e-mails?

because it's a new medium, i use 'greetings whoever' for formal stuff and nothing much for my friends.  i treat each incoming as part of a continuing conversation. saves on typing too.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 10-08-2007

Re: How do you write e-mails?

For business emails, using my company account, to people I know I would start, Hi Thomas and end Regards or Kind Regards depending on my relationship with them. I have a hefty signature with my name, contact details, company info etc. The signature is cropped down for replies and forwards.
I would use the same format, with my personal account, for personal emails using a signature of just my name and email address.
For business emails to named people I don't know and I am emailing them for the the first time I would start Mr Kuglin and end Regards.
Regarding emails to such as customer services it is best to be polite and to the point. I would start Hello and end with Regards. I often use the subject line as part of the address e.g. Attn of the customer service supervisor
If I did write a letter I would use the old letter styles Dear Sir/Madam, Yours Faithfully etc. However I believe they are some what inappropriate for emails and don't seem to really fit.
I think a decent signature set up for your emails is a good thing to have.
I was at school learning about Dear Sir and Yours Faithfully when the Beatles where in their heyday  Cheesy
Moderator
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Registered: 11-01-2008

Re: How do you write e-mails?

I write e-mail like I write everything else. Badly.
Will Moderate For Thanks
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Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: How do you write e-mails?

I'm another who tends to use 'Hi' followed by a name if I have one.  I sign off with 'Regards' or 'Best Wishes'.