To Whom It May Concern: When and How to Use It Properly

When two people first meet, introductions can be important. A person might not remember everything you say during the five minute chat you both enjoy, but there is a good chance that they will remember a friendly smile, sparkling eyes meeting theirs, or a confident tone of voice.

The same can be said of written communication—Introductions can be important.

Most written communication is done with email now, so it is necessary to understand the do’s and don’ts of professional emails.

It isn’t easy keeping track of what to do and what not to do, though. It seems like the requirements are constantly changing. Even business practices that seem pretty stable have seen shifts that keep us constantly having to reevaluate how we do things.

One example of the shift-stay-shift dance that the business world does is email formatting. Emails are basically letters. They haven’t gone completely away from the style our grandparents used to handwrite. But there are differences. Take the greeting, “To Whom It May Concern”.

“To Whom It May Concern”

This greeting was once widely used. It came in handy when writing to someone in a company without knowing their name. It is still in use, but has become outdated. The “To Whom It May Concern” greeting has not been completely kicked to the curb yet, as some outdated phrases have been, but it is on its way out.

Why is This Greeting Not Used As Much Any More?

One of the reasons it isn’t used as much as it used to be is because of criminals. There has been so much phishing going on, with crooks attempting to access people’s personal information that people are extremely hesitant to open non-specific email.

Another reason it has become outdated is because we have so much technology available to us. Some people believe if you are applying for a job, then you could at least find out the other person’s position in the company. Once the position is known, It could be used in the greeting.

  • Example: To The Head of The Department of Collections

It is always better to find the name of the person. It is simply better etiquette. But if you haven’t been able to locate their name, no matter how hard you try, use their position.

Is “To Whom It May Concern” Ever Used?

Yes, as stated before, if you search and search yet can’t find the person’s name or position, you can use this. But a better, more up-to-date choice would be “Hello”.

It can be used when several people will be receiving the same email.


To Whom It May Concern:

To All Customer Service Representatives:

Our company has recently received a disturbing number of remarks concerning a lack of courtesy in the customer service department. Because of this, we will begin assistance training Saturday, January 9.

Further details are forthcoming.


Michael Millhouse


The Shoe Store

If you do choose to use “To Whom It May Concern”, remember these guidelines:

  • Capitalize every word
  • Put a colon After the phrase
  • Double space to your opening paragraph

To Whom It May Concern | Infographic

To Whom It May Concern

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