I have observed that in my work place, whenever a mail is sent to more than one person( like an information, meeting request or a notice etc.), the mail starts with the salutation "Dear All". This, somehow, doesn't seem correct to me. For me, a salutation should address the reader individually, at least in its singular form, as in "Dear Colleagues".

Am I correct in thinking that?

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    Wait...people still use salutations in e-mail? I hardly ever see this. – Michael Scott Shappe Aug 9 '10 at 16:54
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    I use salutations. Normally just a "Hey So-and-so," though. – kitukwfyer Aug 9 '10 at 20:34
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    Unless your boss objects to "Dear All", do nothing. In particular, do not correct your colleagues on such things! – GEdgar Aug 15 '12 at 12:40

To me, Dear all conveys laziness. A well-thought-out message should have a specific audience that the message applies to. Dear coworkers, Dear minions, Dear Death-Eaters, Dear residents, etc. is not that much more difficult to type. Then someone reading the message can more easily discern whether the message applies to them or not.

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    What would you write for customers on a first email? "Dear customers"? – John Aug 29 '16 at 16:11

Unless they are actually your colleagues (i.e. none of them are your bosses! or clients, or third-parties), I would stick with the neutral:

Dear All,

(quite common) or maybe:

Dear Everyone,

(less common)

I just checked by looking up the emails we (as a group) receive from the hierarchy above:
They all begin with 'Dear All' (translated in French by 'Bonjour à tous et à toutes', since the equivalent of 'all' is not gender-neutral in French.)

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  • I generally prefer addressing all groups explicitly, as in "Dear Sir and colleagues" etc. – Vaibhav Garg Aug 9 '10 at 6:36
  • But If they are not my colleagues? In my case I ve never met any of them. Is for a job offer, most of the puople involved are administrative stuff. What should I say? – Millemila Mar 31 '17 at 22:05

Dear all is perfectably acceptable. So is Dear Colleagues. It depends on how formal or informal you want to be, and what is normal usage in your workplace. If in doubt, do what appears to be normal practice.

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I find that using a non-standard, but polite greeting in an email tends to be quite effective in getting people to actually read what you are writing. For instance, when writing to a group of people, it is quite common (in New Zealand) to write:

To whom it may concern,

or, as has been mentioned:

Dear All,

But I tend to write something off carte like (assuming that I worked at British Telecom–which I don't):

Dear BT Person,

I have found that this unusual approach—which also feels less impersonal—can be more likely to garner an audience.

But where I currently work, we have a tool to address everyone individually, we just leave a placeholder where their name is, so it will say:

Dear Mr. Smith,
Dear Kevin,
Which I think is probably the best way to get it done if it is convenient.

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Nowadays often only "All:" is used - not very nice but that's the way it is.

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Salutations are not for beauty; they are a tool to alter reader's mode of understanding, often to make the message more convincing.

If you are suggesting something formal, talking from position of rights or power, you may want to use more formal "Dear Colleagues" to make the argument stronger.

If you are making a proposal, and want to downplay it as in "hey, it's an idea, a basis for further thinking and please judge it as such", a simple 'All,' would do a better job.

In all cases, basic netiquette requires that meaningless text should be avoided when addressing a large group of people. It's easier to write than to read, so one should invest in brevity.

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All is not a addressing mode, when we talk to somebody we can use all to denote a group of people but while writing an email it surely doesn’t make any sense.

Dear All is surely not correct English to start with the email, rather you could use dear colleagues at a workplace.

I presonally find writing dear all very informal and hence always use dear colleagues.

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