“Isn’t that a wonderful beginning?”


We seem to greet people all the time in different situations.  For instance, walking past people you know, walking past people you don’t know, writing letters, starting phone calls, sending e-mails…

Actually, do we even use greetings in e-mails anymore?  Do we need to?  The way I see it, the need depends on the circumstances.  For most of my friends, if I were to actually add a greeting, it would probably need context to understand, carrying a hidden friendly insult.  For instance,

You Warthog-faced Buffoon,

Why did you leave me at the mall?



would be a plausible situation.  Please notice the closing.  Only when I am annoyed by someone (outside my immediate family) do I sign letters or e-mails “love.”  This plays into the other optional heading for a friend who I’m not speaking to: the Overly Sweet heading.

Dear Matt,

You and I both know that stealing my wallet is not the way a sweet boy like you would ever treat me.  Don’t take me wrong here, of course.  It’s really for your own good that I will now not talk to you for a month.



Unless you are in trouble then, if you happen to be my friend, you don’t want a heading.  My e-mails usually run more along the lines of:

are you doing anything tomorrow?  wanna grab some chipotle?  i know you do… 😛

Yep, no capitalization, minimal punctuation, no real greeting, and almost never do I include a signature, even in cases of including all the others.  Now, as with any rule, there are certainly exceptions, which I will now lay out for you.

Exception 1: The Debate

In any situation in which I am verbally defending a situation, position, action, or statement, my e-mails follow every basic letter writing rule.  I generally open with the minimal heading of the recipient’s name, follow all basic rules of grammar, use big words, and add my name at the end.  After all, I’m either defending something I feel very strongly about or playing the devil’s advocate; I have a reputation to uphold.

Exception 2: When the Recipient and I aren’t Best Friends

Naturally, I don’t open every e-mail with a quote from the Princess Bride, although I might start doing that now that I said I don’t.  (See title)

Exception 3: When I Want Something

Seriously now, whether I want to borrow something, have something bought for me, or get something published, when I want something, I can follow all the rules.  Can’t you?

I intend to follow this up with a post on the dreaded “subject line” in e-mails, so I will create a draft post with an undetermined post date.  In the meantime, what are your thoughts on headings in e-mails?  Tell me.  And remember, this is for posterity, so be honest.  How do you feel?


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