Get rid of the email salutation?
December 29, 2010 5:44 AM   Subscribe

Drop the email salutation, closing?

I increasingly I feel weird writing in emails:
XXX (recipients name)
blah blah blah
mono blanco

After all it's clear who it's from and who it's to. So I'd rather just send the blah blah and forget the salutation and closing. But is that rude? What's current email etquette?
posted by mono blanco to Computers & Internet (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think dropping the valediction is rude.

Your argument that "it's clear who it's from" proves too much--you know who you're speaking to on the phone, but you still say goodbye when you hang up. If you think it's a hassle to include, just add a generic one to your signature file (and edit it to Love, Mono Blanco when you're sending it to your mom, and Regards, when it's to your bank manager).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:48 AM on December 29, 2010

Personal emails, anything goes. Professional emails, keep the formalities in.
posted by headnsouth at 5:48 AM on December 29, 2010 [6 favorites]

I think we can reduce the rule even further.

If you have any reason to impress this person (boss, customer, potential father-in-law) keep them in.

Anyone else (friend, employee, peer) screw it.

This is what I do, anyway.
posted by Patbon at 5:51 AM on December 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

Why not just setup a 'signature' in your email client that adds it for you, then you don't have to write it and everybody thinks you have written it.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 5:56 AM on December 29, 2010

Different generations and upbringings still require the formalities. Keep the same tone of the sender. Current email etiquette, otoh... anything goes.
posted by JJ86 at 6:02 AM on December 29, 2010

Professionally and personally I go by amount of traffic with that person--five times a day, no salutation/closing. A rare email -- salutation/closing.

In a middling situation I'll tend to go with the other person's conventions.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:03 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

My rule of thumb is to use names in the initial email, but once we start replying back and forth, I usually drop it. People like to be called by their names and small as it may seem, it's a little courtesy I like to use.

I also am sure to use names in salutations especially at work when I'm sending an email to one person (Bob), but CC'ing others (Tom and Harry). I'll use Bob's name in the greeting. Tom and Harry (and anyone else for that matter) don't usually notice that they're being CC'ed and will think the email is for them unless I put Bob's name there as a salutation.
posted by NoraCharles at 6:04 AM on December 29, 2010 [6 favorites]

Oh, and I'll also often add a 'Hi XXX' at the beginning if it's first thing in the morning or one of us is coming off a vacation. Basically, as I would if we were face to face.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:05 AM on December 29, 2010

I've seen, from high-level people in a number of fields, an increasing dropping of the email signature.

There's still the standard full email attached signature (Bob Smith, Vice President, XYZ Company, 137 Main Street, etc), but frequently in the first email they will sign it, and within the email trail after that, anything goes. I've gotten a number of one or two line email responses with no signature - this, I think, is due to the rise in people responding using smartphones.

I'd still follow headnsouth's rule. If you always close the same way (Cheers! - Bob), add that to your attached signature, as Confess has suggested.
posted by kellygrape at 6:07 AM on December 29, 2010

I use the following in business, and it works well...

Hi mono blanco

Thanks for your recent MetFilter question...


the noob

Regardless I start with Hi

I personally don't like signatures, but I believe our mail server adds the logo and a disclaimer.

If I'm sending to a group, it's Hi all...

posted by the noob at 6:16 AM on December 29, 2010

I think having no closing feels rude. Others, obviously, have different reactions, but an email without a closing feels abrupt. Tone is already difficult to read in emails.

I start by signing my name, but I switch to initials during ongoing email threads.

Todd Lokken
posted by OmieWise at 6:18 AM on December 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: My personal preference is to drop the greeting in all but formal business e-mails, but keep the closing, since signing the message actually provides some utility: It makes it clear you were done, and did not e.g. accidentally click send while composing or have half your message eaten by a grue along the way. Even in casual one-liners with friends, I will at least add an initial at the end.
posted by Dr Dracator at 6:22 AM on December 29, 2010

There's still the standard full email attached signature (Bob Smith, Vice President, XYZ Company, 137 Main Street, etc), but frequently in the first email they will sign it, and within the email trail after that, anything goes.

Note that Outlook can be set to append the signature to the first email in a chain and not to replies, so you will see a fair amount of that.

I'm old, and I'm still uncomfortable with the first email in a chain not having a salutation (often "Hi XXX") and a signoff (typically just my first name, no "sincerely or anything") even in informal situations. After that I often just use body text in the same chain. With people in my company and my family, I'll often use just body text or sometimes even just a subject line ("Give me a call when you get a sec") essentially as a substitute for a text message, which I am too old to use with a straight face.
posted by The Bellman at 6:39 AM on December 29, 2010

Continued conversations, I totally agree. But for that first initial communication, I still think it needs to be there. Is your email address really, really obvious that it belongs to you? (ie Is the receivers email address also as obvious? Errors do occur (trust me, I get a ton of misdirected mail) and the salutations are an extra way to easily see that the email is getting where it was supposed to go. As for the closing, well, not having one just seems rude. Throw a "Cheers, mono blanco" in your signature, and you never have to think about it again.

That, and anything else starts becoming less email-like and more like a text. Is the next step dropping grammar, punctuation and vowels because "its clear" that they're supposed to be there?
posted by cgg at 7:42 AM on December 29, 2010

Nthing it's a generational thing, and a protocol/rank thing. I saw in a biography of Glenn Miller a photocopy of a memo he received as an officer in the WWII era Army Air Force. I won't clog up the thread with a gloss on the whole thing, but the hand-typed document contained about 20 lines of addresses, cc:s, greetings, salutations, divisional IDs (about 4-5 of which seemed necessary to get the letter where it was going), and one line of actual content, something like:

Your request to hire so-and-so is approved.

I consciously follow what the other party is doing, except that I use an auto-generated signature, which I delete if it gets in the way of the recipient reading something I'm quoting.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:19 AM on December 29, 2010

I always say "Hello" or "Hi" at the start of the initial message, with their name, then drop that if we have a back and forth conversation. I normally sign off with just my name (no Regards or anything), or more casually, just the first initial of my first name.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:28 AM on December 29, 2010

For me it depends completely on who I'm talking to and in what context.

IF it's a long back and forth with a co-worker, it's fine to degrade to IM level of conversation of facts. Adding someone's name to every mail, in a one on one discussion on-topic, almost sounds passive-aggressive after a while.

If it's the start of a new concept or discussion, a more polite introduction is, well, more polite and respectful. If I'm asking for assistance or bringing up a new idea, I'm showing respect for the recipient and their job.
posted by TravellingDen at 8:42 AM on December 29, 2010

I put my initials after the last sentence of an email, to show that I've finished writing rather than hitting send accidentally. I do this for my boss as well as for my friends. vv
posted by vickyverky at 10:05 AM on December 29, 2010

I personally feel that the salutation and signature are generally needed.

There are a couple exceptions I allow myself. One is when writing certain friends or family members that I see all the time and I'm just dropping a note. Ie.

    "Saw this and thought you might like it -".

Another is, when the recipient and I have already exchanged several e-mails in the last hour or so, and the e-mail has become more of a conversation than a stand alone "letter". Ie.

    Ok, I made some adjustments to the server. Would you please try the system again?

Otherwise, I generally feel it would be rude of me to leave out the "pleasantries".
posted by Vorteks at 10:08 AM on December 29, 2010

I don't add salutations or signatures to emails unless I am replying to somebody who did. Even still, I only do it for the first reply. After that it is not necessary. I know who you are.
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 10:09 AM on December 29, 2010

So I have 2 accounts a personal and a professional.

My sig automatically goes on all professional emails, and I also address them. This isn't an etiquette thing its just a personal preference because I hate having to dig through a thread to get someones contact info. I also like to think my sig is fairly clean on clients which support rich text.

Personal emails don't get an automatic sig and can be addressed and closed in a variety of ways. But usually I just do

posted by bitdamaged at 10:15 AM on December 29, 2010

Agreeing with pretty much everyone that with close friends and family, you can do as you like.

My rule for work and formal email is to repeat the dang subject line in the email because people cannot frickin' read. If you knew how many emails are forwarded to me with instructions to figure out who sent it and why and to deal with it, you might be a lot more careful with professional emails.

Also, you don't know how people have their email set-up - you can't be sure they know who it's from while they're reading the body, even if they would recongnize the address.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:21 AM on December 29, 2010

I agree with Dr Dracator that the closing is helpful to indicate that you are sending a complete message, not one that was interrupted.

Does it really feel so weird to you to type

mono blanco


Call me if you have a question.

mono blanco

or whatever? It doesn't have to be a huge flowery 18th century style "And so, dear lady, I remain, in the hope of seeing you Wednesday next, your humble and obedient servant, mono blanco" after all.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:29 PM on December 29, 2010

And "yes" to both of Lesser Shrew's points.

Especially the latter, and especially when an individual is responding to a group email. If I'm trying to plan my brother's birthday party, I don't necessarily want to have to figure out exactly who is; if he signed his damn name I would know he was that guy from the office that my brother didn't like, so it doesn't matter if he can make it on Tuesday or not.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:31 PM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: OK thanks. It's clear this is an etiquette in transition. So until there are clear rules one must use common sense and politeness, favoring the latter in case of uncertainty.
posted by mono blanco at 12:51 AM on January 1, 2011

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