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I'm submitting to a journal. There is a drop down menu to choose your area, and each area has a specified editor with his name readily found on the journal instructions. So the assigned editor is known. Should I refer the cover letter to the editor in chief or the editor.

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If unsure, just write "Dear Editor".

On the other hand, addressing the editor personally adds a nice personal touch. So there is nothing wrong with either addressing the specific editor: If the manuscript got reassigned to a different editor, they will be aware of that and realized that you addressed it personally to the specific editor.

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