(This entry first appeared in September 2009. I sent it as an email blast for an internal communication project with the title, Writers’ Toolbox: Writing salutations or greetings – Part Two.)
“Do I really have to start my salutation with ‘Dear’?”
‘Dear’ is the standard in salutations in business writing and formal letters. It has nothing to do with being a term of endearment. “Hi” or “hello” is not sufficient as a formal greeting because these two are reserved for casual letters and personal correspondences.