Comma after Hi or Hello in Emails and Messages

A comma may be omitted after Hi or Hello in an informal greeting, although some writers prefer to include it. Both styles are acceptable in emails and text messages.

  • Correct: Hi Anita,
  • Correct: Hi, Anita,
  • Correct: Hello Dr. Dash,
  • Correct: Hello, Anita,

Greetings like Hi and Hello are not generally used in formal letters or emails, where Dear So-and-So (with the person’s full name or title and last name) is used instead. If you do use Hello in a formal email, place a comma after the word to separate the greeting from the name of the person being addressed.

  • Correct: Hello, Dr. Dash,
  • Correct: Hello, Partners and Stakeholders:

Comma of direct address

In dialogue and other writing, use a comma to separate a person’s name from a greeting or interjection such as hi or hello.

  • “Hello, Mr. Dash. How are you?”
  • “Hi, Sid. It’s great to see you.”
  • “Good morning, everyone. Are you ready for your new challenge?”

This comma of direct address is not needed in greetings at the start of a message that begins with the word dear, which is an adjective and not an interjection.

  • Dear Mr. Dash,
  • Dear Sid,
  • Dear Minerva Dash:
  • Dear Dr. Dash:

But what of emails that now begin with Hi, Hello, or other such informal greetings?

Comma in email salutations

Informal emails and messages often begin with Hi, Hey, Hello, or other casual greetings. Accepted style is to place a comma after the salutation, and then begin the main body of the email in a new paragraph. (The comma of direct address between Hi or Hello and the person’s name is generally omitted in informal usage.)

  • Hi Anita,
  • Hello Anita,
  • Hi Ms. Dash,
  • Hello Dr. Dash,

Greetings like Hi are used in informal communication, where a relaxed punctuation style is acceptable. If you’re texting a friend or your mom, for example, it may seem fussy and slightly pedantic to use a comma after Hi. If you like this comma, feel free to use it. But remember that both styles—with and without the comma after Hi—are acceptable.

  • Correct: Hi Mom,
  • Correct: Hi, Mom,
  • Correct: Hello Lulu,
  • Correct: Hello, Lulu,

Some writers believe that since Hi and Hello are not adjectives like Dear (seen in greetings like “Dear Lulu”), a comma helps with clarity. But no one who reads the phrase “Hi Lulu” without the comma would think of Hi as an adjective modifying the noun Lulu. Since no confusion would result, using a comma after Hi is more a matter of register (or formality) than grammatical necessity.

  • Correct: Informal: Hi Poco,
  • Correct: Informal: Hello Maya,
  • Correct: Less informal: Hello, Maya,

Style manuals like the Chicago Manual of Style, AP Stylebook, and MLA Handbook all agree that using a comma between Hi or Hello and a person’s name in an informal salutation is a matter of personal preference rather than grammar.

A comma is still generally used after longer, multi-word greetings like good morning and good afternoon at the start of an email (although omitting the comma is acceptable in informal messages).

  • Correct: Good morning, Farley,
  • Correct: Good morning, Farley. How are you?
  • Correct: Good afternoon, Dr. Dash.

Quick Quiz

Which is/are correct as an email salutation?
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Which is/are correct at the start of an informal message?
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Which is better as an informal greeting?
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Which is more formal?
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