How to Start and End a Business Letter or Email

Make sure that your business letters and emails use the correct salutations and endings. If you write business correspondence, you’ll need to know how to start a letter (or email) and how to end the letter or email.

For example, a common mistake in ending an email is to write “Bye” or “Bye Bye”. As this is not a standard way of ending business emails, it makes your writing look unprofessional.

Here are some widely used phrases for starting and ending business letters and emails in British English.

How to start a letter

The way you start your letter depends on how formal you need to be. Here are some examples:

1. Formal letter of application (for a job)

If you don’t know the person you’re writing to, you can start with “Dear Sir / Madam”. If you start with this, you should end “Yours faithfully”. Here’s an example:

“Dear Sir / Madam

I am writing to apply for…”


“I look forward to hearing from you

Yours faithfully
(your name)”

2. Formal business correspondence (for example: a letter of enquiry)

In most business correspondence, you can start with “Dear Mr / Dear Ms” + surname. You should end the letter with “Yours sincerely”.

For example:

“Dear Mr Smith” (Dear Ms Smith)

I am writing to enquire about your prices…”


“An early reply would be appreciated / I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.”

Yours sincerely
(your name)”

3. Formal letter of reference

In British English, we also use the formal term “To whom it may concern” when we write a letter of reference on behalf of someone. Here’s an example:

“To whom it may concern

I write with reference to Ms Smith, who has worked in my company since …”


“Yours faithfully
(your name)”

How to start an email

Business emails are usually much shorter than business letters. They also tend to be more informal.

4. Business email (friendly)

You can write the person’s first name and use a more friendly ending. Here’s an example:

“Dear (+ first name)

Just a quick note to remind you about …”


“Best wishes / Kind regards
(your name)”

5. In-company email request

If you’re writing to a colleague, you can either use their first name, or start the email immediately. Here’s an example:

“(no salutation)

Could you…”


“Thanks / Cheers
(either write your first name / omit it)”

In British English, “Cheers” means “thank you and goodbye”.

Extra Resource

Make sure you use the correct form of address when you write to women. Check out our page on whether to use Mrs, Ms or Miss.

More Business Letter Writing Help

For more help with business writing, take a look at my book Business Writing Essentials: How to Write Letters, Reports and Emails.

Designed to help you write business emails, letters and reports quickly and confidently, it’s packed with tips, guidelines and ready-to-use letter and email templates.