The days of letter writing is dead. Email, however is much more modern. Facebook (from what I can gather) is trying to kill of the humble email, but considering 90 trillion – yes, I said trillion – emails was sent in 2010, I think Facebook may have a fight on their hands. That averaged to 247 billion messages being sent per day. No wonder we’ve got a short attention span with all those messages we’re trying to read. Despite these trillions of emails, we don’t have a correct way for salutations and sign-offs. A debate on Radio 4 got me thinking – why do we not have a standard email etiquette?
With letters, you know where you stand. If you don’t know the name of the person, you write:
And end with Yours faithfully.
If you know the person’s name, you end the letter with Yours sincerely. If you’re on a computer or typewriter (remember those?), you must press return six times, then type your name and sign in the space.
Writing emails is somewhat of a minefield. If it’s someone you don’t know, do you use ‘dear’ or ‘hello’ or even ‘hey’? I tend to use ‘dear’ however a friend finds that old-fashioned. She tends to use ‘hello’, which I don’t like. After making the initial contact, I tend to use ‘hi xxx’ as a greeting. If you applied the rules of letter writing to an email, most people would think you were rather odd, old or haven’t got to grips with technology.
You open up an email and read:
Did you scan in that ad?
What’s your reaction? Or:
Did you scan that ad?
Did you scan that ad?
I’m not a fan of using just a name as I find that blunt and shocks my system when I open it. My immediate thought is that I’ve done something wrong or I’ve annoyed them! But I do prefer that to not having my name at all. For me using ‘hi’ is has a much more friendlier tone to it. After you’ve established a conversation, then I think it’s alright to lose the name.
So, what about the sign-off? The Radio 4 debate mentioned bw to end an email. I’ve never come across that before. To me that could be band wagon, barn wars, better weather… but it means best wishes to those in the know. My favourites are kind regards, kindest regards, regards, many thanks or thanks. With certain people, I even use cheers, which got the panel a bit hot and bothered.
The correct salutations and sign-off seems to be a personal preference and the meaning that you attach to them. So the question is – how do you write yours?