business salutations

Title: The Radical Copyeditor’s Approach to Business Salutations

“Dear Sirs” (no): This salutation says that you
don’t think women exist.

“Dear Sir or Madam” (no): This salutation says that you don’t think non-binary people exist. 

“Dear Mr. Rowan Smith” and “Dear Ms. Lindsey Doe” (no): If you don’t know someone’s title, don’t guess. Not only can you not tell people’s gender from their first name, but you also can’t tell if they use Dr., Rev., Rabbi, Sister, Sergeant, or another title of respect. 

“Dear Mx. Alex Kapitan” (no): Mx. is best used only if you know
for sure that the person you’re addressing uses this title.

“Dear Director Jackson” and “Dear Elena Fernandez” and “Dear esteemed colleague” (yes): If you can’t determine someone’s correct title, don’t use one. Titles are meant to confer respect; using the wrong title does the opposite. Plus, many people prefer no title.

At the bottom of the graphic, the paper the words appear on emerges from a typewriter. Above the typewriter ribbon is the black text www.copyeditor.com with the red word “radical” inserted so that, edited, it reads www.radicalcopyeditor.com.


Note: Why does this page exist? Because folks who are blind and depend on screen readers can’t tell what’s in an image without a description, and an image like this one deserves a more thorough description than can be provided via alt text. You can learn more about web accessibility from WebAIM: Web Accessibility in Mind.