In a formal / professional email (i.e. emails directed at potential employers, co-workers and administrators), is it okay to exclude the greeting after the first email?

For example, I will send an email in the form:

[Formal greeting]
[Message body]
[Formal salutation]

I will typically then receive an email of the same form. After this point, is it necessary to keep including a formal greeting, or even a formal salutation?

I generally do not keep saying "Hello" (or include any other greeting) in the same email thread after having said it once in the initial email. I may include another greeting if I am emailing the same person after at least a day in between emails, or if starting a new email thread.

I will also generally omit the salutation and just place my name or signature at the end of the email after the initial greetings / emails as well.

What are everyone's thoughts on this? I am referring specifically to formal and professional situations and not casual emails with friends or co-workers who you may have already been working with for a while.

  • This is more of a business etiquette question than a language question: workplace.stackexchange.com – Neil W Apr 16 '14 at 22:11
  • @Neil You're right; I wasn't aware of workplace.stackexchange.com when writing this question. – cornflakes24 Apr 23 '14 at 18:01
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about business etiquette rather than grammar, word-choice etc. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 31 '17 at 22:50

In exchanges with lawyers, potential employers and so forth, leave the onus of omitting greetings to the other party.

Unless the other party has dropped the greeting, I would suggest erring on the side of formality and always including some kind of greeting, such as a simple "Hi John". The reason is that people react differently to the lack of greeting. For instance, when I have made the effort to compose a considerate letter and receive back a terse email without so much as a "Hi Bob", it can rub me the wrong way. Surely many others react the same way. Knowing that, you would include a greeting because you wouldn't want to rub people the wrong way.

On the other hand, if your potential employer has dropped greetings from their emails and started replying informally, then at some stage you may want to take the cue, otherwise you may come across as stiff.

This is similar to being invited to an important person's house. You want to make sure that your standard of behavior is always at least as courteous as your host's.

  • "... leave the onus of omitting greetings to the other party." I think this is good advice, thanks! – cornflakes24 Apr 23 '14 at 18:00
  • @cornflakes24 You're welcome cornflakes24, thanks for your kind feedback. – zx81 Apr 23 '14 at 19:45

Unless I am corresponding with an important person who does not work at the same organization, I typically drop it after the initial email and first reply.


In my opinion, a business salutation/greeting is used when:

  1. sending an initial email
  2. replying to an initial email
  3. the intended, specific recipient needs to be identified when many have been addressed.
  4. to direct the attention of specific recipients to sections where the information is relevant to them, especially if the rest of the email is not relevant to them. Also, this is probably the only situation that an "All," salutation is effective.

A salutation can most likely be omitted when:

  1. a thread has developed between only two people; in this case a salutation is completely unnecessary. A pet peeve of mine is when actual content is being bumped out of the email notification preview line in favor of the meaningless salutation that the other person keeps using.
  2. a thread has developed where there are clearly only two people actively participating
  3. a non-specific reply to a group where the "To:" and "CC:" fields have already adequately defined the levels of involvement.
  4. it's clear that the entire email is addressing a large number of addressees, such as an entire department. I tend to think that a salutation like "All," is usually not necessary in these situations.
  • Hello, Kevin. Sadly, as even OP agrees, this question belongs on Workplace.SE. rather than ELU. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 31 '17 at 22:52

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