Gender-inclusive writing: Letters and emails

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Introduction

Gender-inclusive writing is increasingly becoming standard practice in correspondence. To draft gender-inclusive correspondence, omit any references to gender from the various sections of a letter or email when you’re writing to

The paragraphs below explain how to make specific sections of a letter or email gender-inclusive in the cases listed above. (Of course, when you’re writing to a specific individual and you know that person’s gender and courtesy title, you can follow the standard practices for correspondence.)

Inside address

The inside address is the receiver’s address. It includes the name of the person you’re writing to and the person’s address. The inside address appears on the first page of the letter.

When you’re writing a letter or email to a specific person, omit the courtesy title (Mr., Mrs., Ms.) in the inside address and on the envelope. Instead, use the person’s given name or names (or initials) and last name, followed by the person’s address.

Inside Address

Example of a gendered inside address in a letter and an inclusive solution
Gendered version Inclusive solution
Ms. Justine Teresa Ames
515 Concord Court
Gardenton, NS B2X 9F6
Justine Teresa Ames (or J. T. Ames)
515 Concord Court
Gardenton, NS B2X 9F6

Envelope

Example of a gendered name and address on an envelope and an inclusive solution
Gendered version Inclusive solution
MS JUSTINE TERESA AMES
515 CONCORD COURT
GARDENTON NS B2X 9F6
JUSTINE TERESA AMES (or J T AMES)
515 CONCORD COURT
GARDENTON NS B2X 9F6

Note: On envelopes, use the Canada Post format for addresses. (For example, addresses are written all in capitals, with no punctuation.)

Salutation

When you’re writing a letter or email to a specific person, omit the courtesy title from the salutation. Instead, write “Dear” + given name or names (or initials) + last name + colon.

Examples of inclusive salutations for a specific person
Gendered version Inclusive solution
Dear Mr. Smith:
We are happy to inform you that…
Dear P. T. Smith:
We are happy to inform you that…
Dear Ms. Kumar:
We have received your request…
Dear Amrita Kumar:
We have received your request…

When writing a letter or email to an unknown receiver or when writing a form letter, use a generic salutation, followed by a colon:

Examples of inclusive salutations for an unknown receiver or for a form letter
Gendered version Inclusive solution
Dear Sir or Madam: Dear Colleague:
Dear Sir: Dear Homeowner:
Dear Madam or Sir: Dear Constituent:
Dear Madam: Dear Customer Service Manager:

Note: The noun or nouns after “Dear” are also capitalized.

In an email message, in addition to the salutations listed above, you can use the salutation “Hello,” followed by a comma.

Additional information

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