Business letter writing: Mrs, Miss or Ms?

How should you address a woman when you write a letter to her? Will she be offended if you write "Dear Madam" or "Dear Mrs + surname"? Over the last few years, there have been some changes in standard greetings, and here are some general guidelines to help you avoid accidentally insulting anyone.

The old distinction between married (Mrs + surname) and unmarried (Miss + surname) are no longer used. Instead, use Ms (+ surname). Ms is pronounced (Mizz) and is used for all women – whether married or not.

If you are replying to a letter in which the woman has written her name as Mrs + surname, then it is fine to reply to her using Mrs + her surname.

If you are writing to a person in a company whose name you don't know, you can start with "Dear Sir / Madam". If you know for sure that the person is a woman, but you don't know her name, you can write "Dear Madam".

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