In the comments to last week’s Mangled Monday about the structure of a letter, Melissa asked: “What do you think about emails that don’t have a salutation? I always try to start mine with a greeting unless I get into a really fast-paced conversation with short emails flying back and forth at a rapid rate. Then it’s more like an IM discussion. I notice many people forgo salutations on emails, especially after the first pass.”
So, let’s explore that.
As I mentioned last week, letters have dates, addresses, salutations, bodies, and closings.
Memos, on the other hand, are much simpler, and laid out in a very different format. They have:
…followed by the text of the memo.
Call me crazy, but that pretty much looks like every email I’ve ever sent. Different programs have different options, of course, but there’s almost always a field to put your To address, and one for a Subject, and there’s always a Date and a From (which may or may not be determined by the person sending the email).
That said, emails seems to be right at the cusp between “letter” and “memo.” There’s no defined, formal format to them (that I’m aware of), and so people kind of feel their way. I have sent and received emails that have salutations and signatures and that basically felt like a letter, but I’ve also gotten emails that were exactly like a memo–short, direct, to the point.
So, let’s open this one up to discussion. What do you folks think? Do you put a salutation at the top of your emails? Do you sign them? Always? Never? Some of the time? Do you treat personal emails differently than business emails?