When addressing an email to three recipients, depending on the context, you may need to include a call to attention in the subject line, address each person by their preferred combination of first and last name, and review the grammar and addressing of your email for consistency and privacy.
Here’s what to consider when addressing an email to three recipients.
How to address an email to three recipients
Oftentimes, we think of emailing as a one-on-one communication, but there are many reasons why an email may need to be addressed to multiple contacts. You may be sharing important news with multiple family members, scheduling projects with a team at work, or in some other way addressing multiple people on a list for an important announcement or notification.
Addressing an email to only three people is still speaking to a small enough group that each person should be considered and addressed individually throughout the message from the subject line to the conclusion. Any larger of a group than that, and you’ll want to move into group emailing etiquette (more on that later).
Call attention in the subject line
In a business setting, it’s usually a good idea to include a call to attention in the subject line of an email, especially if you are sending to an email that is largely shared such as a press or inquiry email.
You can call to attention by writing your subject line, then including the abbreviation “ATTN:” followed by the names of the individuals whose attention you wish to call to the email.
- Business Meeting Nov 13 at 10am ATTN: Lisa, Tim, and Stephen
- Project Proposal for Idea Line ATTN: Edna Marine, Michael Score, and Jennifer Saint
- Invitation to Company Banquet ATTN: Ms. James, Mr. Smith, and Mrs. Jones
First name, last name, or both?
To address up to three people in the same email, you begin with a salutation that you would use to greet a single person, then simply add the appropriate names separated by commas.
Whether you use just first names, last names, or both depends on the context of the email. If you are messaging a team or group you are familiar with, you would address them as you have done in the past.
For new contacts, it’s a good idea to include either both the first and last name of your recipients or their title and last name only, depending on the formality of the email.
- Dear Hank Grey, John Jones, and Paisley Wood,
- Hi Tim, Sasha, and Martin,
- To Mr. Greenfield, Mrs. Smith, and Ms. West,
Review for grammar and addressing etiquette
Whether your email is formal or informal, you’ll want to review it before sending to ensure that you’ve used the appropriate grammar for addressing multiple recipients.
If you are referring to a particular person’s skill, trait, or history, it’s a good idea to address them by name at the beginning of the sentence.
If you are addressing the group as a whole, is a good idea to use some variation of “you all.”
Additionally, pay attention to where you’ve put the email addresses of your recipients. If the email is generally addressed to all three, then putting all three emails in the “To” section makes sense.
If the email is largely addressed to one person with questions for the other two near the end, then adding those two to the “Cc” or “Bcc” sections might make more sense. The only difference between the two sections is that “Bcc” hides the address from the other recipients on the list.
Emails sent to three people should be firmly relevant to all recipients and involve open discussion between all members of the email thread so that no one is left out of the loop. This can help to clarify messaging and avoid miscommunications that could cause delays or issues later on.
You may find it helpful to remind recipients that while private communications should be made with the “Reply” function, communications that may benefit the entire group (such as scheduling messages) should be made with the “Reply All” function.
How to address an email to three recipients at a large organization
If you are writing an email to three recipients at a large formal organization such as a political campaign, government office, or charity organization, you may choose to address it differently.
To begin with, your salutation may be simply “To” or “For the attention of” followed by your recipients.
You’ll also want to list full names and titles, separated by either commas or parentheses and commas.
- To Mara Long, Editor in Chief, James Williams, Sports Editor, and Sarah Smith, People’s Choice Editor,
- For the attention of Senator Sam Gil, Secretary Alya Thompson, and Secretary John Allen,
In these emails, you’ll want to remain formal and polite throughout the letter. Begin by introducing yourself, then by introducing your inquiry and inviting a response if necessary.
You’ll also want to be sure to leave relevant contact information in your signature, should you want a response.
How to address an email to more than three recipients
If you are addressing an email to more than three people, then it is a good idea to begin it with a general group salutation.
- Hello everyone,
- Hi all,
- Dear team,
If you’re addressing a company or department at large, you may choose to simply address them by their company or department name.
- Hello Sports Illustrated Editorial Team,
- Hi Candy;Co,
- Dear marketing department,
Beyond that, it’s usually a good idea to use the “cc” and “bcc” functions for longer email lists where some people may be uncomfortable having their addresses so widely shared.
Addressing an email to multiple people can feel confusing. As long as you understand the context of your message, though, you should have no issues. Use a call to attention where appropriate, greet on an agreed level of formality, and remember to regard everyone’s privacy, and your email should be received gladly.