English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Even though I am all in favor of salutations and complimentary closes, when exchanging more than a couple of mails with the same person, I feel that starting yet another reply with Dear Mr. Smith gets somewhat worn and moreover stiff, even awkward if you like.

Hence, I was wondering whether it would be considered ill-mannered to drop the salutation after the first (second, third?) mail and jump to addressing the actual subject matter directly.

Correspondingly, if I drop the salutation, should/can I omit the valediction as well?

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I often leave off the "Dear" in such circumstances:

Mr Smith:
In regards to our previous conversation...

Moreover, if Mr. Smith has signed one of his emails to me in a manner such as this:

Best regards,


Jeff Smith
President, EL&U Inc.

Then I might take that as a cue, and I may take the liberty of beginning subsequent emails thusly:

Thanks for getting back to me...

share|improve this answer
+1 for the 2nd example. – chrisdillon Apr 1 '12 at 2:26
What about signing the letter/mail? Do you take the liberty and skip the Best regards, Yours truly, etc.. as well or is that rather something that always should conclude a letter? – 0sh Apr 1 '12 at 10:51
It depends on the level of familiarity, how long the correspondence is running back-and-forth, and any difference in levels of position. If I'm writing a high-ranking executive, I'm more inclined to leave it in. As the correspondence lengthens, I might shorten the closure, or make it less formal (e.g., Regards, in lieu of Best Regards,). Sometimes I'll simply use Thanks, or Thanks again, – those short and concise, yet retain some measure of politeness. – J.R. Apr 1 '12 at 18:12

In real paper-in-envelope correspondence I'd keep to the formal letter structure.

But in email, which is less formal, and between quick exchanges in a continuing dialogue I will typically go to just the person's name and a comma as an opening and sometimes if the conversation contiues long enough I drop even that and just start typing. Similarly, you can reduce the closing to simply your a dash and your name or no close at all if the conversation is well established and all pretense of formality has worn off.

It really depends on the level of formality you believe the situation requires.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.