Comma ( , ), Colon ( : ), or Semicolon ( ; ) with Greetings

Dear Ms. Jenny Gardner;

What do you think? Is a semicolon correct after the greeting? How about a comma or a colon?

The semicolon is dead wrong. It is NEVER correct after a greeting. Never in a letter and never in an email.


Here’s the correct punctuation:

• a comma for a personal letter

• a colon for a business letter

• either punctuation mark in an email. (The colon is formal.)


But remember, “Dear” isn’t required in email, even when writing to a stranger. Try one of these two openings if you want to sound professional without using “Dear”:

• Hello, Ms. Juliar Fadillah

• Ms. Juliar Fadillah, I found your blog, and . . .


If you want to sound friendly with a stranger, try these:

Hi, Julie.

Hi Julie, (English teachers don’t like this choice. They want a comma between ‘Hi’ and the name.)

Hello, Julie. 

• Greetings, Julie.

• Julie, thanks for the . . .


Use a colon in a business letter:

Dear Mr. X:


This is a typical business letter. Although there are many different styles, … Business Letter

If you know the person and typically address them by their first name, it is acceptable to use only the first name in the salutation, for example, Dear Lucy: . In all other cases; however, use the personal title and full name followed by a colon. Leave one line blank after the salutation. Check out this link.


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