Make sure that your business letters and emails use the correct salutations and endings. If you write business correspondence, you’ll need to know how to start a letter (or email) and how to end the letter or email.
For example, a common mistake in ending an email is to write “Bye” or “Bye Bye”. As this is not a standard way of ending business emails, it makes your writing look unprofessional.
Here are some widely used phrases for starting and ending business letters and emails in British English.
How to start a letter
The way you start your letter depends on how formal you need to be. Here are some examples:
1. Formal letter of application (for a job)
If you don’t know the person you’re writing to, you can start with “Dear Sir / Madam”. If you start with this, you should end “Yours faithfully”. Here’s an example:
“Dear Sir / Madam
I am writing to apply for…”
“I look forward to hearing from you
2. Formal business correspondence (for example: a letter of enquiry)
In most business correspondence, you can start with “Dear Mr / Dear Ms” + surname. You should end the letter with “Yours sincerely”.
“Dear Mr Smith” (Dear Ms Smith)
I am writing to enquire about your prices…”
“An early reply would be appreciated / I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.”
3. Formal letter of reference
In British English, we also use the formal term “To whom it may concern” when we write a letter of reference on behalf of someone. Here’s an example:
“To whom it may concern
I write with reference to Ms Smith, who has worked in my company since …”
How to start an email
Business emails are usually much shorter than business letters. They also tend to be more informal.
4. Business email (friendly)
You can write the person’s first name and use a more friendly ending. Here’s an example:
“Dear (+ first name)
Just a quick note to remind you about …”
“Best wishes / Kind regards
5. In-company email request
If you’re writing to a colleague, you can either use their first name, or start the email immediately. Here’s an example:
“Thanks / Cheers
(either write your first name / omit it)”
In British English, “Cheers” means “thank you and goodbye”.
Make sure you use the correct form of address when you write to women. Check out our page on whether to use Mrs, Ms or Miss.
More Business Letter Writing Help
For more help with business writing, take a look at my book Business Writing Essentials: How to Write Letters, Reports and Emails.
Designed to help you write business emails, letters and reports quickly and confidently, it’s packed with tips, guidelines and ready-to-use letter and email templates.
Speak English Fluently!
Hi! I’m Clare, an English teacher and the founder of this site.
I can help you speak English more easily! Start here for English fluency:
The Fast Phrase Finder – The world’s FIRST spreadsheet of fluency phrases. Get your first 10 English fluency phrases here!