Universiteit Leiden

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Writing guidelines

For more writing guidelines, please go to the translation guide for guidelines for English texts and translations.


Use a gender-neutral form of address whenever possible. For official announcements and communications, automated messages, forms and policy documents, the following applies:

  • Respect people’s preferences in address. If necessary, ask people for their preferences.
  • For automated communications, choose a neutral form of address.
  • Use gender-neutral salutations and forms of address in communication to groups (Dear visitor, Dear colleagues).
  • Use gender-neutral job titles.
  • Only ask for people’s former gender (e.g. in forms) when truly necessary.
Situation Advice

Formal and automated communication

Messages directed at groups

Gender-neutral address
Full name/initials

Dear Sir,
Dear Madam,
Dear Sir or Madam,
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear student,
Dear colleague,
Dear participant,
Dear reader,
Dear user,
Dear candidate etc.

Formal communication directed at one individual

Full name/initials, or title

Dear Mr Van Leiden,
Dear Mrs Van Leiden,
Dear Ms Van Leiden,

Dear Dr Van Leiden
Dear Prof. Van Leiden
Dear Ms Van Leiden
Dear M.A. van Leiden,
Dear Marijn van Leiden,

Dear Professor Van Leiden
Dear Dr Van Leiden

Informal personal communication

Preferred name

Dear Marijn, Dear Marijn,
If preferred name is not known
Dear student,
Dear colleague,

See also the guide Tips for gender-inclusive communication

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