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To Whom It May Concern: The Quick and Simple Guide to Using This Phrase (With Examples)

When writing letters or emails in business, one must remain neutral and professional while still writing in a friendly tone so as not to distance your reader. Establishing this formal tone begins with the salutation—the very first line of your letter. “To whom it may concern,” for example, is a particularly popular salutation for business letters and emails. 

But when and how should you use this greeting? And are there any other ways to say “To Whom it May Concern”?


In this article, we’ll answer these questions and more, providing you with a complete guide to this phrase and when it’s acceptable to use it. Read on to find out more!

To Whom it May Concern


When to Use “To Whom It May Concern”

So, when is it appropriate to begin your business letters or emails with “To Whom It May Concern”?

Before the popularization of the internet, it was standard practice to start a formal business letter: “To Whom It May Concern.”


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Nowadays, however, it’s easy to look up the name and title of the person you’re writing to, so using this greeting just comes across as lazy.

However, there are circumstances in which starting a business letter “To Whom It May Concern” would be acceptable—for example, if you’re writing to a company or department and are not sure who specifically to write to.


When to Avoid Writing a “To Whom This May Concern” Letter

This salutation should be avoided whenever possible. Not only does using it suggest laziness on your part, but it also gives the impression that you are careless and unprofessional

There are a few steps you can take to find out the name of the person you’re writing to and avoid addressing a letter “To Whom It May Concern”.


  • Check their website. Look out for links to “About Us” pages. 
  • Check their LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, you can view a company’s employee list.
  • Call and ask. Someone from the company’s administrative department should be able to give you the information you need.


How to Write a Letter “To Whom It May Concern”

What if you try everything and still can’t find out who you’re writing to? Or what if you are sending an email to a general department—for example, a complaints department—and have no idea who might respond?

In this case, a “To Whom It May Concern” email would be acceptable.


If you find yourself writing a letter or email that uses this greeting, you may wonder if there’s anything else you should include in your correspondence. You may wonder how to start a letter with “To Whom It May Concern,” for example.

Or, you may not know what sign-off you should use to bring your correspondence to a close. This section will answer these questions and more.


How to Start a Letter “To Whom It May Concern”

When writing to someone you don’t know, adopt a polite, formal tone. This begins with the opening lines of your email. Here are a few pointers to start you off on the right foot:


  • How do you write “To Whom It May Concern”? When using this salutation, you should capitalize the first letter of every word. You should also follow it with a colon.
  • Are there any formatting rules you should follow? A double space should always follow your greeting.
  • What should you include in the opening paragraph? Make sure to introduce yourself and briefly explain why you’re getting in touch.


How to Close a “To Whom This May Concern” Letter

Once you’ve finished writing the body of your email, you’ll have to choose an appropriate sign-off. Since this is the last thing your recipient will read, it’s important to get this right so that you leave a good impression on them. 

When thinking about how to end a “To Whom It May Concern Letter,” think about the sort of tone you want to convey. Ideally, your sign-off should be professional but friendly. Some good examples are:


  • “Best regards”
  • “Cordially”
  • “Thank you for reading”
  • “Sincerely”
  • “Kind regards” 
  • “Have a good weekend”

A Few Other Tips to Keep in Mind

When considering how to write a business letter “To Whom It May Concern,” what other things should you keep in mind? Below, we’ve included a few pieces of advice to help you make a good impression when using this greeting:


  • Use a formal tone. This doesn’t mean being cold or unfriendly. Simply do your best to come across as respectful and polite.
  • Ask for their name. When introducing yourself to someone you hope to form a business relationship with, this is a good idea.
  • Proofread your correspondence. Nothing ruins a professional email like careless typos! Be sure to look your email over before hitting send.


What to Use Instead of “To Whom It May Concern”

As we’ve already said, this greeting is not the best way to start a letter or email—not when it’s so easy to find out people’s information these days. So, what are some more personalized, modern options you can use instead?

If you’re looking for an alternative for “To Whom It May Concern,” consider:


  • “Greetings”
  • “Dear Hiring Manager”
  • “To the [company name] [department] team”
  • “Good morning/afternoon”
  • “Hello”


If you’re looking for another way to say “To Whom It May Concern,” there are plenty of options for you to choose from that will help you make a better first impression! The above list only includes just a handful of alternatives.


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“To Whom It May Concern” Letter Templates

If you’ve been left with no other choice, you may still end up having to use this greeting. In that case, you may want to take a look at a couple ofTo Whom It May Concern” examples to get an idea of what to include in your own. 

In this section, we’ve included a couple of samples for your consideration that we hope will be useful.


“To Whom It May Concern” Letter Example #1

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to you in response to your reference request for Liz Carter.


During her time here, Liz has proven herself to be a highly motivated, intelligent individual. From her very first day, she has always shown initiative, going the extra mile to ensure customers were satisfied with their in-store experience. 

Liz’s performance has been, in a word, excellent; I am sure she would be an asset to your team and cannot recommend her highly enough.


Kind regards,

Daniel Kinley


“To Whom It May Concern” Letter Example #2

To Whom It May Concern:

Unfortunately, I am writing today to file a complaint against your services. 


After a lengthy delay, the necklace I ordered from your website finally arrived this morning. I originally purchased the item as a gift for my daughter’s eighteenth birthday, but it did not arrive in time.

Furthermore, when I inspected the necklace before wrapping it, I found an area that was very obviously discolored.

I am requesting a full refund and a replacement as soon as possible.



Molly Harding


Should You Use a “To Whom It May Concern” Letter Heading?

We hope this article has given you something to think about the next time you have to write a business letter or email.

While this popular salutation has been in circulation for some time, you may want to rethink beginning a letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”


Alternative options are available and are often far more personalized and engaging.

That said, if you’ve taken all the necessary steps and still feel it necessary to use this greeting, we hope that the advice we’ve given on how to use “To Whom it May Concern” will prove useful!


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