How to start and finish professional emails in English

Posted on September 13, 2016

By Emily Stallard, owner and trainer at Orchid English


Do you struggle with formality in business writing? Even native English speakers sometimes wonder which form to address to use, and which sign off is best. Here are some of our tips on how to start and finish professional emails in English.


How to Start Emails

Hi Donna,

When emailing colleagues I usually start “Hi” and their first name. This may look too casual to some people from other cultures but it’s “business casual” in the UK. It’s still more formal than using “Hi” or “Hey” with no name, as you may write to a friend.

Hello Jane,

If I am emailing a potential client or someone else I don’t know well I might start “Hi”, “Hello” or “Dear” and their first name. How do I decide? Sometimes I check how they have addressed me and I use the same form!

Dear Ms Sandberg,

Some people use “Dear” with a title and surname and this is a question of personal preference. I often use this if I’m emailing for the first time, or addressing someone from a culture which uses more formal forms of address. In British business culture this is generally considered over-formal with people who you have already met.


How to Finish Emails

British professionals tend to sign off emails using these words and phrases. Here they are in approximate order of least formal to most formal:

  • Thanks,
  • Best wishes,
  • Best regards,
  • Kind regards,
  • Regards,

You may have seen “Yours sincerely” or “Yours faithfully” and these are generally used in letter writing.


So now you know how to start and finish professional emails in English. What style do you prefer? How does this compare to email writing in your culture?

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