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The Death of "Dear"

Etiquette experts, knowing that salutations set the tone for correspondences, say that dropping a greeting and using only a name can seem cold. Using "hey" can seem too familiar. Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, who runs the Syntax Training business writing school in Seattle, says she tells clients they can forgo dear in email but must keep it in business letters. "We don't use dear because someone is dear to us," she says, "but because we understand the standards of business writing and recognize the standards of intelligent business people." The Emily Post Institute says it's OK in general to drop dear but advises using it in particularly formal email.
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