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I was taught in writing fomal letters, one should use a colon while informal ones a comma can be used instead. I understand that English is a living subject that changes over time. And now many people skip any punctuation altogether in their saluations. What is the current standard these days?
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I take it you mean in the 'Dear Sir/ Dear Fred' part.

I have never seen a colon used in this situation. Either use a comma, or for a more modern look even in formal letters, skip the puncutation altogether.
It is still correct to use a colon after the salutation in a business letter.
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Really?

Honestly, I've worked in English offices for nearly 20 years and I can't recall seeing a colon used after a salutation. It may be one of those 'correct in theory' things that no one actually does in practice?
All:

I used colons in that context just last week several times.
I've been using them for years.
Is this a sign that I've become old? Or just old-fashioned?Emotion: smile
I suppose it might be different in BE, as so often is the case. I learned to use a colon after the salutation in business letters a long time ago. I've just looked it up in "A Writer's Reference" (3rd edition, Copyright 1995), which is not nearly as "ancient" as I am, and it says a colon should be used.
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What difference does it make? Give your Dear Whoever and move along with what's important and that is the text (body) of your letter. Get to the business of things and leave the picky things for those who want to create their own style of salutations.
CalifJimAll:

I used colons in that context just last week several times.
I've been using them for years.
Is this a sign that I've become old? Or just old-fashioned?Emotion: smile

Fascinating! As they say, "You learn something new every day." I have almost reached the half-century mark and never used a colon in a business letter. Yet I checked my copy of Keys for Writers (1996) and there is is, page 166, "Use a comma after the salutation in a business letter." Well you could have knocked me over with a feather!

I can only offer two potential reasons for my ignorance: the first is that I am originally from Britain but now live in the USA and there may be a stylistic difference between the two countries, or second, I have repressed this knowledge because of some deep-seated psychological trauma that occurred in my childhood. Perhaps I was beaten by an over-zealous English teacher.

Siggy
AnonymousWhat difference does it make? Give your Dear Whoever and move along with what's important and that is the text (body) of your letter. Get to the business of things and leave the picky things for those who want to create their own style of salutations.

Well, for the same reason you use good grammar and spelling. It says "I know how to conduct myself as a business person." If you got a business letter with all the facts perfectly laid out and good reasoning, and it was in purple crayon with bad spelling, would you take it seriously? If you want to write a letter to a business, be businesslike.

I have now worked in five workplaces (all in the U.S.), some of them major international corporations, and we used a colon after the salutation in every single one of them.
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