How to start an email

How to start an email | And 5 Ways to Absolutely Not

In this ridiculously informal guide, you’re going to learn how to start an email. Seems straight-forward right? WRONG. Every day around 7 am, I open my inbox to Santa’s sackful of ‘Dear Friend’ from Chinese suppliers.

Each morning I am liberally sprinkled with a vast array of upgraded fidget spinners, e-bikes and N-95 masks. All put together by the happy elves of the People’s Winter Period Collectively Made Object Distributor-Person.

Yes, we all now know what an N-95 mask is. Word of the year anyone? That was Santa by the way.

Speaking of word of the year – if you’re here because you could do with a little vocabulary help, then check out this corker:

Let’s talk emails

Properly starting an email can be the difference between getting that dream job or sitting at home collecting unemployment cheques. It can be the difference between convincing your professor to move your mark up by 1 percent or failing your class.

Emails may seem trivial, but they are very important.

Courtesy of bored panda | bad emails are everywhere

With that being said, how exactly do you start your email? What are the ways that draw the recipient in and create the aura of business-casual discussion that you are trying to create?

Look no further. Here are 5 ways to start an email and 5 ways to avoid starting an email.

How to Start an email the right way

5 Great Ways to Fire Off That Email



Short, simple, and perfectly too the point, Greetings is perfect for when you do not know the recipient’s name. This can be replaced with “Hi there,” and you convey the same message.

Greetings may sound overly formal at first, but being a little on the formal side is much better than being way too far on the informal side (as seen in the 5 methods you should never copy section).

“Hi Name,”

“Hi [Enter Name Here],”

This one works perfectly to fill the void left between the impersonal “Hi there” and the more formal, but very personal, “Dear [enter name here].

It is an absolute classic way to start an email.

“Dear Name,”

“Dear [Enter Name Here],”

Slightly more formal, but another great way to start an email, especially if you have already had contact with the recipient. It conveys the attitude that you really care about whoever you are sending the email to and you want them to take the conversation seriously.

This format for starting an email, while very useful in the right situation, is not always the best. For instance, if an employer only uses this to speak to his younger female employees but no other employees, it can come across as a little creepy.

“Hi Everyone,”

“Hi Everyone,”

A simple way to address a group, “Hi Everyone,” is friendly and the perfect mix between laid back and formal. Use this when relaying information to a large group.

“Dear Hiring Manager,”

“Dear Hiring Manager,”

This greeting is a little vague, but it can work wonders if you cannot find the name of the person who is in charge of hiring.

To be clear, try to find the name first. That shows commitment and a desire to get to know the person. But if that is not possible, then starting off in this manner can really help get you the next call or the next meeting in the hiring process.

Now – 5 Methods You Should Never Copy

how to start an email wrong

You’ve been a good [insert animate object preference] which means you now get to enjoy the 5 ways that are NOT how to start an email.

That being said, there is something to be had for the maverick approach. Either way, the choice is yours.

1. Don’t do it | “Hey!”


Are you yelling across a dimly lit parking lot at midnight with a bag of half-finished Cheetos in one hand and an empty can of Mountain Dew in the other, or are you attempting to send a business-formal email to a boss, professor, or prospective client?

This is the kind of question you need to ask yourself whenever you think about sending an email starting with “Hey” to anyone other than your Grandma. Even your Grandma would probably think that was a little too informal and would lower your portion of the will accordingly. 

Hey is shockingly informal, makes it seem like you are not taking the recipient’s time seriously, and generally just looks bad.

Do not start any email off with “Hey”.

2. Don’t do it | “Hello [Enter misspelled name here],”

“Hello [fiewhrioriohtriht],”

Remember that time when that person you thought you were friends with did not remember your name at a party? You tried to blame it on the alcohol, but he was dead sober and the designated driver. Then he rambled on about his 4th-grade bus driver, who he clearly remembered the name of? Did that make you feel good when he forgot your name?

Probably not, and misspelling someone’s name in an email address is the online version of that.

Hello, Bichael,” is not a great way to get off on the right foot.

First off, Bichael is not a real name. Nobody in the history of the entire world has been named Bichael.

Second of all, spelling the recipient’s name wrong sends 2 very bad messages.

First, it sends the message that their name is not important to you, and therefore they are not important to you. If you are emailing anyone who is important to you, such as your boss or a professor who insists the class call him by his first name in a poor attempt to seem cool, this sends the wrong vibe.

Second, This sends the message that you make mistakes and do not fix them. If you sent that email as part of an application to be the safety inspector at a nuclear power plant, now the person in charge of hiring has seen you either do not notice mistakes or you willingly choose not to fix them.

Neither of those traits are good to have as a safety inspector at a nuclear power plant (unless your name is Homer Simpson).

BONUS TIP : Equally as annoying is writing in all caps. Try to avoid that after having learned how to start an email.

examples of how to annoy people with bad emails

3. DFDI | “TGIF am I right?”

“TGIF am I right?”

There is one exception to this rule. If you find yourself in the middle of a Pixar movie about how you were living a carefree life as a Golden Retriever in an upscale neighborhood, magically got transformed into a human by a magical lamp but kept many of your dogfish ways, then had to get an office job to make ends meet, this is acceptable.

Even then, this is only acceptable until your second day at the office. After the first email, everyone’s “ugh, this guy” glances and passive-aggressive responses should be enough to stop you ever starting off another email like that.

Under any other circumstances, this is annoying and unacceptable. This is therefore a penalty in our how to start an email syllabus.

4. Don’t do it | “Sup’ Douchenards,”

“Sup’ Douchenards,”

This is probably the worst possible way you could start an email. It lets everyone in the office, school, or wherever else you were unfortunate enough to send it to know that you are simply the worst human being on the face of the earth.

Again, there is an exception. If you work in an office of solely recently retired lacrosse bros, this will most likely be seen as hilarious. It will become the only way you are instructed how to start an email for the entire time you work there.

5. Don’t do it | “Dearest [Sir or Madam],”

“Dearest [Sir or Madam],”

Way, WAY too formal. This sounds like the start of a message to a lover, written on papyrus and sent via messenger pigeon in the mid-19th century.

Most people you send this too will feel like they suddenly aged 20 years and will get a shiver down their spine. Do not send this unless you are contacting Sir Elton John or a literal madame.

Well, there you have it. 5 great ways on how to start an email and 5 very not great ways also. Now you know how to perfect it, why not put these skills to use, perhaps to do some outreach and start a career in politics. Or better yet, start a cult:

See ya later, Douchenards.