I am submitting an unsolicited article to a magazine by email. The publication's website provides an email address but not a name. Rather than starting the email "To Whom it May Concern", "Dear Sir or Madam", or "To the Editor", I am inclined to omit a salutation. Would this be appropriate?

This question differs from related questions that I was able to find. While another question asks about choice of salutation for unknown individuals in email (as does this question), omitting the salutation is not discussed. Another question asks about omitting salutations in emails to known individuals but not unknown individuals.

I never put old-timey snail-mail salutations on emails.

That being said, for the first email you send to someone you don't know, yes you should have a short sentence at the top explaining who you are and/or why you picked them (of all people) to contact. (eg: "I'm having a bit of trouble with product-X, and the website suggested I send a request to this address"). This is the same kind of stuff you'd start out saying if you'd phoned, after the obligatory "hello","hi" verbal handshake that we don't do in emails.

This is done because most folks these days get a lot of email of all kinds, and thus have their finger poised over the delete button on any email from a sender they don't recognize. As a courtesy to them, you should give them all the information as soon as possible to make their decision on whether to keep your email, direct it to someone else, or (horrors!) trash it.

  • Thanks. I agree with you that the reason for the email should always be stated upfront. – Ellen Spertus Jun 3 '14 at 17:25

I feel the same way about the formal salutations, but I don't think 'hi' works, so I get around it by a greeting that incorporates the time of day.

Good morning,

I was wondering if you could assist me to....

Do not use Dear unless it is very formal. Even on the first email I ever send a stranger I rarely use Dear. I find Hi too cutesy so I begin with the name followed by a colon. After the first email and initial reply I drop all salutations. If the person is unknown, I rarely use a salutation as the whole point is to personalize the email and avoid looking too harsh. Something like good morning does not really personalize it, although I guess it is okay if you want to be formal

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