Use a Comma in Salutations

Some languages use exclamation marks ("!") in salutations (greetings used in letters, including e-mail) where English uses a comma (","). Your correspondence might come off as too informal and foreign if you use exclamation marks instead of commas. The examples below are meant to serve as a guide.

In English, use a comma in salutations. For example:

  • Dear Sirs, (UK English)
  • Dear Customer,
  • Dear Reader,

In especially serious situations, a colon might be used instead:

  • Mr. Smith:
  • Customers:
  • To Whom it May Concern:

In informal messages, younger people might use an exclamation point:

  • Hey Peter!
  • Hi Guys!
  • Dude!

It is a mistake to use the wrong punctuation in correspondence:

  • Dear Mr. Smith!
  • Dear Sirs!
  • Hey Peter:

In case of doubt, use a comma.