Is it correct to start a cover letter like this:

"Dear Sir / Madam..." with a forward slash,

or would you rather use

"Dear Sir or Madam..."

when you don't know your recipient's name?

  • 2
    I'm not sure, but I think this might be a better fit at Workplace.SE, since this isn't really a question about the English language per se.
    – stangdon
    Oct 20, 2016 at 14:37
  • It depends on who the cover letter is to, and what it's about. If you're applying for a job at a very formal organisation it's a bit different to when you're sending a demo to a bar you're hoping will book your rock band. Applying to a laid-back tech company is in the middle.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 27, 2023 at 9:54

3 Answers 3


"Dear Sir or Madam," is the standard form. When not addressing someone by name, end with "Yours faithfully," not "Yours sincerely,". However, it is not too difficult to find out the names of people that you are writing to and you should certainly do this if you are making a job application or if you are writing an important business letter.

  • Could it be correct to use slash (/) instead of "or". Dear Sir/Madam ?
    –  Erika
    Oct 20, 2016 at 17:50
  • If you like. One is pretty much as good as the other. No one will be offended.
    – Mick
    Oct 20, 2016 at 17:52

I wrote several cover letters and usually started them with “To whom it may concern.” Not the best choice, frankly speaking. That’s a total cliche. “Dear Sir/Madam” is a little bit better. But after I researched this topic myself, I found this page https://www.getcoverletter.com/blog/how-to-address-a-cover-letter/ with some practical advice on addressing the cover letter.


In recognition of the modern aversion to assigning gender to persons unknown, I have had recommended to me to use non-binary alternatives to the more old fashioned Dear Sir/Madam. If you know the job title of the person, in your example when applying for a job you might use:

To the hiring personnel... or Dear Recruitment Coordinator,...

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