How should you end your business email?
This is a hot topic in one of my Business English classes right now. We are analyzing an email and questioned why the author ended their email to their boss with “Best wishes.” This ending didn’t match the tone of the email nor the relationship between the boss and worker.
How do you like to end emails? Consider the tone and relationship:
- For a friendly and business tone with people I talk to regularly, I prefer ” Talk to you soon.”
- For a professional and more formal tone with new or potential clients, I prefer “I look forward to meeting you” or “I look forward to working with you.”
Recently, Grammarly.com wrote a great blog about how to end emails. Let’s take a look at it and discuss the email endings. The endings are:
- Formal Business: Regards, Sincerely, and Best Wishes
- Friendly Business: Cheers, Best, and As ever
- Gratitude and Requests: Thanks, Thanks in advance, I appreciate your …
- Endings to Avoid: Sent from my iPhone
- Playful endings: Sent telepathically, iPhone. iTypos. iApologize.
I disagree with some of their analysis. You can find a lot of articles where people disagree about how to end an email. So, I will agree and disagree with (italics).
(By the way, Grammarly is a great writing resource. I highly recommend their spelling and grammar checking extension. It’s free and available for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox.)
Regards (I’m not a fan!)
Yes, it’s a bit stodgy (old-fashioned, dull, or bulky), but it works in professional emails precisely because there’s nothing unexpected or remarkable about it.
Sincerely (I’m a fan! It’s a classic.)
Are you writing a cover letter? Sincerely conveys the right tone for formal correspondence. Keep in mind that it’s likely to come off as stuffy in more casual business emails.
Best wishes (I’m not a fan unless you probably won’t be talking to them again.)
A good blend of friendliness and formality makes this sign-off a safe bet, but be aware of its greeting-card vibe and use it only when it fits well with the tone of your email.
Cheers (I only use this with close friends.)
A recent study by the email app Boomerang rated cheers as the most likely sign-off (that isn’t a thank-you) to get an email response. It works well if your email is friendly and conversational but, unless you’re actually British or Australian, it may come off as affected in more formal settings. Cheers, mate!
Best (I’m not a fan!)
Best conveys best wishes in a cheerful, pithy way. If you get a lot of email, you know that nearly everyone uses this sign-off. That familiarity makes it seamless in the same way that regards is seamless in more formal emails. The downside is that it can be safe and dull, especially if you want your message to be dynamic and attention-getting.
As ever (I’m not a fan! I’ve never used this nor do I remember seeing it!)
This is a fine choice for people you’ve built an ongoing working relationship with. It reassures your contact that things are as good between you as they’ve ever been.
Gratitude and Requests
Thanks in advance (I recommend you only say “Thanks” in spoken English. If you are thankful then say “Thank you!” Example: “Thank you in advance for…” Be clear about what you are thanking them for.)
According to the Boomerang study, emails that include thanks in advance have the highest response rate. Maybe it’s because this sign-off expresses gratitude but also sets an expectation—you’re saying that you’ll be grateful when (not if) the person you’re emailing comes through. In more formal circumstances, thanking someone in advance may come across as too demanding, so take care where you use it.
Thanks (Once again, if you are thankful then say “Thank you.” I recommend you only say “thanks” in spoken English.)
A simple thanks is also a solid choice when you want to express gratitude. But, just like thanks in advance, it can convey a tone of expectancy. Save it for when you actually mean to imply, “I expect you to do this.”
I appreciate your [help, input, feedback, etc.] (I am a fan. I love this ending!)
There’s never really a wrong time to express appreciation when someone has helped you out.
Nine Email Sign-offs to Avoid
Love (Yes, only for family and very close friends)
I have a friend who once accidentally signed an office email to his entire department with love. He never lived it down. Save this one for family, close friends, and your significant other. The same applies to hugs or XOXO.
Thx or Rgrds (I only use “Thx” in a messaging app. I don’t use Regards nor Rgrds!)
You’re not thirteen, and this isn’t a conversation happening in a messaging app. Use your words.
Take care (I mainly use this in spoken English)
On the surface, take care sounds pleasant, but on closer examination it seems to imply that the recipient should be wary of potential dangers. Use this only if bears are known to lurk by the Dumpster outside the recipient’s office. (We’re only half kidding!)
Looking forward to hearing from you (Good point Grammarly! Thank you!)
This one also sounds nice at first, but it’s ultimately passive-aggressive. Your recipient is likely to hear an implied “You’d better write back.”
Yours truly (Good point Grammarly! Thank you!)
Do you really, truly belong to the recipient? Nope. This sounds insincere and hokey . . . unless you’re writing a letter home to your parents from summer camp.
Respectfully / Respectfully yours (I agree! This is too formal.)
This one’s okay if you’re sending a formal missive to the POTUS, but it’s too formal for anything else. In fact, according to Business Insider, respectfully yours is the standard close for addressing government officials and clergy.
[Nothing at all] (Good point Grammarly! Thank you!)
We live in a world where people frequently email from mobile devices, so excluding a signature certainly isn’t a no-no as an email chain progresses, particularly if your recipient also drops the more formal sign-off. But not signing an initial email or using only the formal signature you’ve created to append to your outgoing emails comes off as impersonal. (Bloomberg disagrees, stating that email has become more like instant messaging than true correspondence these days, but we’re sticking to our convictions.)
-[Name] or -[Initial] (Good point Grammarly! I might be using this too often!)
While this sort of sign-off may work for very brief, informal emails, it’s too cold and detached for most, particularly when you’re connecting with the recipient for the first time.
Have a blessed day (Good point Grammarly! Thank you!)
It’s best to keep anything with religious overtones out of your professional correspondence, although this one’s fine if you’re emailing an acquaintance about what you’re bringing to the church potluck.
Bonus Bad Sign-off
Although this sign-off tends to happen more by default when the sender forgets to add an actual signature, we thought it was worth mentioning the ubiquitous . . .
Sent from my iPhone
This may be the most common sign-off of them all. It has merits, of course. It explains away brevity and typos—who’s at their best when typing on a phone? But it also conveys that you don’t care enough to do away with the default email signature that came stock with your device’s email app.
Some people get creative with this signature. A few fun (if not necessarily business appropriate) examples found around the Internet include:
- My parents wouldn’t buy me an iPhone so I have to manually type “Sent from my iPhone” to look cool
- Sent telepathically
- Sent from my laptop, so I have no excuse for typos
- Sent from my smartphone so please forgive any dumb mistakes
- I am responsible for the concept of this message. Unfortunately, autocorrect is responsible for the content
- Sent from my mobile. Fingers big. Keyboard small.
- iPhone. iTypos. iApologize.
- My phone can’t spell for carp
And, for the Stephen King fans among our readers:
- Sent from Jack’s typewriter, Rm 237. No autocorrect. REᗡЯUM