If you need to send an email with multiple recipients, it’s necessary to properly address them. Addressing recipients is part of email etiquette because they need to know that you didn’t send the email accidentally, whether in full or in relation to them. It’s also polite to address someone when you are communicating with them, because it gives people the feeling that you are speaking to them, not at them.
Let’s explore all the different ways you can address a group in an email:
When to Address People by Name in a Group Email
If addressing two or three people in an email, it’s okay to use their first names. For example:
- Dear John and James,
- Dear Michael, Lily, and Susan,
If you are only addressing two people in the email, you can use their surname, but keep in mind that this is considered to be very formal. As such, only use it if you feel like the two recipients will value formality, even if it sounds stilted in a general sense.
If you’re addressing three people, don’t use their full names. This will make the opening too cluttered and annoying to read in a glance.
When Not to Address a Group by Name in an Email
If you are addressing four or more people, don’t use names. Use a general term for the group, like “team” or “everyone” or mention the name of the department. For example:
- Hello team
- Dear team
- Hi everyone
- Dear sales department
- Hello development team
If you are very familiar with the group, you can use more friendly terms, like ‘friends’ or a nickname you may have for the group. However, you must never be so formal in an academic or business setting. Even if you do have that kind of relationship with the people you’re emailing, the higher-ups may want employees to keep things professional while on the clock.
Furthermore, avoid gendered group terms. Group terms like “gentlemen,” “ladies,” or “guys” may not fully represent the group you’re emailing, so don’t use them in case someone may feel left out. Perhaps more importantly, the vast majority of gendered group terms aren’t considered professional. Even something that sounds formal, like “gentlemen,” can come across as out of place in most work environments. If it’s not something you hear being used around the office, avoid using it in the email.