Digital Communication


Digital Communication

Writing an email: the instructions to follow


EStep 2: The call formulas

An email, just like a letter, should begin with an appeal, addressing the recipient(s). However short it may be, it is essential and may vary depending on the context.

How polite do you have to be?

When in doubt, it is often better to be too polite than not polite enough. The classic call formula ” Dear, ” is the best solution when you do not know the exact identity of the recipient but you are contacting a service or department.

When you know your identity, a simple “Madam,” or “Sir,” possibly followed by your surname, often does the trick. In the case of hierarchical superiority, the addressee’s title will be mentioned in the appeal form: “Madam Director”, “Mr Deputy Director”, etc. When addressing people you already know and with whom you have cordial relations, “Dear Madame X” is both polite and warm. Finally, to address closer colleagues, a simple “Hello” is completely acceptable.

Which recipients should I give priority?

In the case of an email with multiple recipients, everyone should be addressed. We must therefore ask ourselves in what order they appear. In general, hierarchically superior positions are always mentioned first. If the recipients are at the same hierarchical level, it is recommended to classify them in alphabetical order: everyone can understand this order and no one feels neglected. There is also a rule that, of equal rank, a woman is named before a man. It is however an increasingly obsolete practice, to which we prefer a simple alphabetical classification, more practical and more neutral.

How to proceed when you are not sure of the gender of the person to whom you are writing?

It sometimes happens that we only know the family name of the person to whom we must speak, or that this person has a mixed first name. THE gender errors can heighten the susceptibility of many people, it is recommended to carry out a little investigation: one can for example use the company’s website, social networks, a directory or even make a quick phone call to the company’s headquarters. If in doubt, it is better to use a simple “Hello”, or even the formula “Madam, Sir”, if it is a more formal email.

What punctuation mark comes after the salutation?

The best solution is the comma. It is used to end the line, then a paragraph is inserted, after which the sentence begins with a lowercase letter.

Dear Mr Bernard,

thank you for responding so quickly.

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