Business Letters: Format
- The salutation is a greeting. Its placement belongs two spaces below the inside address and always justified to the left margin of the letter. It should include the title and full name of the recipient, followed by a colon.
- Customarily the salutation begins with Dear, followed by a title such as Mr., Ms., Mrs., however, when the writer is on a first name basis with the recipient, that formality can be dropped in favor of a first name.
- The titles Mr., Ms., Mrs., and Dr. are always abbreviated. Other titles, such as Professor and Senator are never abbreviated. Regardless of marital status women should always be addressed as Ms.-the only exception being when the recipient has personally expressed a desire to be addressed otherwise (Miss or Mrs.).
- Avoid gender-based salutations when it is not known if the recipient is a man or a woman. Dear Student: Dear Customer: Dear Resident: etc. are perfectly acceptable options for gender-neutral correspondence.
- An impersonal device may be preferable when addressing a letter to a large organization where the recipient's name is not likely to be known. For example, Attention: Accounts Receivable or Subject: Billing Error may replace more familiar forms of greeting.
- The salutation, To Whom It May Concern: is very out of date-very 20th Century.