36

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?

5
  • 3
    Wait...people still use salutations in e-mail? I hardly ever see this. Aug 9, 2010 at 16:54
  • 2
    I use salutations. Normally just a "Hey So-and-so," though.
    – kitukwfyer
    Aug 9, 2010 at 20:34
  • 1
    Unless your boss objects to "Dear All", do nothing. In particular, do not correct your colleagues on such things!
    – GEdgar
    Aug 15, 2012 at 12:40
  • 3
    "Dear All" is fine. There's nothing wrong with it. It is informal - you are addressing people as members of a group of which you are one.
    – Greybeard
    Sep 15, 2021 at 10:41
  • Obviously too late, but questions about workplace etiquette probably belong at workplace.stackexchange.com
    – Stuart F
    Sep 15, 2021 at 11:01

8 Answers 8

15

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.

2
  • 1
    What would you write for customers on a first email? "Dear customers"?
    – John
    Aug 29, 2016 at 16:11
  • 1
    Nonsense. A well thought out message should be sent only to its intended recipients and be meant for all of them.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 15, 2021 at 10:56
29

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.)

2
  • I generally prefer addressing all groups explicitly, as in "Dear Sir and colleagues" etc. Aug 9, 2010 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, 2017 at 22:05
11

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.

6

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

1
  • "To whom it may concern" has its uses (it's common if you're writing something like a letter of recommendation or doctor's note, which you are giving to someone who will then show it to a third party), but in a direct message suggests that you haven't bothered to find out who you should be writing to. At least pretend it's relevant.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 15, 2021 at 10:58
2

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

2

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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-1

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.

1
  • You'd never say "Hello all"? Or write "Dear all at Number XX"?
    – Stuart F
    Sep 15, 2021 at 11:00
-1

One can address it as Dear Sirs as its considered as gender neutral and is perfectly fine. I use it when i have to address many people in email which may include employees or mix of employee or vendors (male/female).

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/17/equality-womens-rights-gender-law

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  • Citation for Dear Sirs being gender neutral? Most guides today prefer "Sirs and Madams" or something even more gender-neutral.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 15, 2021 at 10:59
  • @StuartF, you where quick to give down vote, my reference is based on TheGuardian.com newspaper. Not sure who is right you are The Guardian?. can you share your guides
    – Learning
    Sep 21, 2021 at 7:40

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