The title of the post is very informal – “howdy folks” is a greeting you would perhaps use to a group of friends and family.
According to the Wall Street Journal, using “dear” as a salutation is going the way of the dodo. Many people feel it is too familiar, seemingly taking “dear” in it’s first meaning of “beloved or loved”. As one professional points out though, it’s a business writing convention rather than over-familiarity:
Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, who runs the Syntax Training business writing school in Seattle, says she tells clients they can forgo dear in email but must keep it in business letters.
“We don’t use dear because someone is dear to us,” she says, “but because we understand the standards of business writing and recognize the standards of intelligent business people.”
I tend to use “dear” when writing formal letters – covering letters for job applications and corresponding with companies and institutions (banks, mostly). When I am contacting a colleague I haven’t yet met in person, I will write “Hi [first name]”, as is my work environment is quite informal. And as Amy Tan notes: “No salutation is from my husband, my assistant, my friends I am in touch with everyday. Familiarity breeds lack of hello, hey, and dear.” (Not that I have an assistant!).
How do you greet people in writing?