This may seem a bit mundane or silly to many but I figured it might be useful for others besides me, hence the question.

My boss (postdoc mentor) is a very kind person, who pretty much exclusively writes in grammatically correct, well articulated sentences and ALWAYS have a nice but relatively formal greeting at the end of the mail. No matter how many times we mail each other in a given day. Even though we are not formal at all when we talk to each other.

As per usual in Scandinavia, we have a very flat hierarchy here, so everyone (from project students to professors and indeed the dean) is on a first name basis with each other, and there are little formalities that may be commonplace elsewhere.

We have been working very closely on this project, with almost daily meetings and near 10-15 mails exchanged throughout the day. My previous experience has always been so that once the formalities have been observed, the communication defaults to shorter, more direct mails.

Given the high-paced exchange between us, I was wondering if it would be rude to write shorter mails that are straight to the point. Specifically I often find myself signing off a mail with a shorthand greeting, e.g. "mvh" instead of "(med) vänliga hälsningar" (which is significantly more formal) or just by writing my name. [The Swedish expressions roughly correspond to "BR" - "Best Regards", respectively].

I thought of asking him if he prefers a more formal tone in our written communication but I don't wanna come across as a pedantic person. Suggestions?

  • 6
    Maybe he is using a preset automatic email signature? Nov 14, 2016 at 9:19
  • 1
    @101010111100 Or he's been doing it so frequently, and for so long, that it's become a habit, rather than a conscious act. Either way, if the actual content of the email becomes more direct through repeated exchanges, I don't see any reason why the pleasantries shouldn't either. I'm no expert of etiquette in Scandinavian countries, however.
    – Ian_Fin
    Nov 14, 2016 at 9:23
  • I have commonly seen MVH in formal emails. And I rarely bother to sign my emails.
    – Davidmh
    Nov 14, 2016 at 10:19
  • 1
    @gerrit Kære (dear)... But mostly older (elderly) people use this. Most people use "Hej"... or as you say, nothing. The North American way of being extremely polite, would annoy most of us.
    – Repmat
    Nov 14, 2016 at 11:40
  • 1
    Do whatever you need to do to get the messages off your desk and where they need to go without wasting too much time on them. Nov 14, 2016 at 22:48

4 Answers 4


(Am also currently working in Scandinavia, have previously been in universities in the UK, US, and Canada.) Abbreviations are almost certainly fine; but look at what others in your department do.

In most departments, you should be able to see a wide range of colleagues’ emails (thanks to admin lists/announcements, etc). Look at what they do, and the range of ways they write. Additionally, note that emails between close colleagues (e.g. within a research group) may tend to be slightly less formal than emails to wider audiences.

You will probably see a fair range of styles. So long as you are within that range, you are probably fine; you don’t have to exactly match every individual correspondent. In case everyone at your department writes particularly formally, then it may be worth doing so yourself — but even then, I would be pretty surprised to hear of anyone in Sweden taking offence at use of “Mvh” as a signoff. I’ve received it in emails from students, professors, and administrators, so at least in my department, it’s considered fine for a wide range of professional relationships (though definitely towards the more informal end of the spectrum).


I have also worked in Scandinavia and also in other places in Europe. After a couple emails in the day, I switch to not using a greeting at the end of the email. In the first e-mail, I would probably use a "Best,".

I never liked mvh, it felt like being bored to write all the sentence, and to write all the sentence, it would seem too formal.

In general, given the flat hierarchy, I wouldn't worry too much about how I close the emails. I don't think they mind as long as you are polite.

PS. On a sidenote, I remember how awkward it felt when I learnt that the common salutation is "Hej", only to realise later on that it refers to "Hello" rather than "Hey".


Have this conversation with your adviser! You seem to be getting along quite well. This would make for a nice question on etiquette in your community over a cup of coffee!


As long as you address the receiver properly, I don't suppose this would be much of a problem. I see both assistant and senior professors use these sort of short hand mail signing all the time. It is just a matter of preference.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .