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I can't decide. In a formal letter, addressed to somebody I don't know, which one would you go with?...

Dear Sir/Madam

or

Dear Sir or Madam

2 Answers 2

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How would the reader "read" the slash? Would they need to translate it in their mind to the word "or"? If so, why not save them the effort and just write the "or" directly? Why is a slash even an option? Is there something wrong with "or"?

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  • 's Thank you for your answer. I dislike words and wherever possible, I prefer to use symbols. Maybe I'm just over-thinking it, but or looks weird compared to /, but I'm not sure if / is more commonly used in this case.
    – SE13013
    Jul 10, 2015 at 17:58
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    @SE13013 Why do you prefer to use symbols? I prefer words, because they require less mental effort to read and are less ambiguous than symbols. And because there's no reason not to regard the word "or" as a symbol. Jul 10, 2015 at 18:02
  • I think it may have something to do with being a programmer. I read, write and think so much... The less there is the better (for me), but if using / will come across as weird to the recipient I'd rather not use it.
    – SE13013
    Jul 10, 2015 at 18:04
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    @SE13013 I'm a career computer programmer as well, that is nonessential here. What is the difference between || and or? Does || feel more precise? It's exactly as precise. Jul 10, 2015 at 18:12
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    That is so weird! Every random person I've spoken to online this week is a programmer. Yes, they are the same, you know what, you have a good point. Why make them think more than they need to. I'm gonna go with 'or'. Thank you!
    – SE13013
    Jul 10, 2015 at 18:18
4

You could always avoid the issue entirely and start with the much used

To whom it may concern,

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    This option also works in the event that the person reading the letter doesn't exclusively fall into one and only one of the two categories.
    – Kingrames
    Jul 10, 2015 at 18:08

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