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Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

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September 06, 2007


Rick Reinckens

I have had this question come up twice in about a month and I am wondering how to handle it. In one case it was for an email and in the other it is a letter, both in the U.S.

What salutation should you use with one woman and two or more men? "Ladies and Gentlemen" looks stupid. Under the circumstances a generic "To Whom It May Concern" definitely would not work.

Here are the two basic scenarios:

1) Emailing a printable letter to the a male Rabbi, male President, and female Program Director of a synagogue. (With 3 people names can still be used. What if it was 5-7 with one woman?)

2) Email to one woman and 3 men at a hospital, all department heads or corporate officers. Three are on a first-name basis with the sender. The sender has had no direct contact with the fourth, the CFO. Don't know whether he might take offense at being listed on a first-name basis. One of the others referred to him as Mr. in an email. (We began that "Everyone:", since it was a semi-formal cover email with a cc: of a letter attached.)


In formal business communication, how do you address a letter to John and Jane Smith as Mr. and Mrs. John Smith without losing Jane? Is Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Smith appropriate? I am particularly concerned with when you are thanking Jane for her gift but it is not appropriate to exclude the husband. Thanks!

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