When writing emails, I come across a problem of whether I should refer to that person by name, or just a simple 'Hi'.

Like if I don't know say Thomas Anderson and I want to mail him for the first time, do I start with a 'Hi!' or 'Hi Mr. Anderson'?

I really don't know how formal this sounds, English is not my first language.

(I am asking this question when emailing people professionally)


1 Answer 1


If you don't know the person, it is probably better to include the name. If it is a formal or business message, it would be wise to drop the "Hi" and simply use the person's title, whether it's Mr. or Ms. or Dr. (or for holders of political office, Mayor or Senator or what have you), followed by their name. I am inclined to think you don't need the "Dear", either.

Dr. Benson:

I'm writing to inquire about the possibility of an internship in your department. [Etc.]

This would be sufficient and would not cause offense through unwarranted familiarity and it would not come off as too casual.

If it were an email to someone you didn't know but the setting was casual (for example, you got their email address from a message board about a shared interest), you might use the "Hi" as in:

Hi Robert,

You don't know me, but we both frequent the Sprocket Collectors forum. I was interested in one of your posts and wanted to follow up on it.

  • So, @Kris ... explain to me please exactly why you downvoted this answer.
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 12:35
  • 1
    Ever since the famous "Just a friendly advice" answer (where one downvote prompted an avalanche of offsetting upvotes), I've started to wonder if Kris is Robusto's sock puppet. This only strengthens my theory. Incidentally, has anyone ever seen Kris and Robusto in the same room before? ;^)
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 30, 2013 at 22:23
  • 1
    @J.R.: I think I could knit a better sock puppet than that. Nit one, Perl two ...
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 2:03

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