Here’s a fun business etiquette question: Reader S wonders about the best way to end your emails in a professional setting. Do you vary your email sign-off by situation, or do you just use one across the board?
I am a long time reader — your website was incredibly helpful while I was in law school and now as an attorney. I have a question about “closing a letter.” I personally use “Regards,” and a more friendly/warm “Best regards,” when I’m closing a letter or email. I’ve always thought it was odd to see “Sincerely yours,” in a professional email as that closing seems overly familiar — but I just saw a letter from a judge, and he closed it “Sincerely yours.”
Wow, interesting question — but one that I admit I’ve pondered also, especially since I seem to recall seeing that my own preferred closing (“best,”) was deemed “cold and antiquated.” (Sadly, I don’t remember where I saw that — maybe in this Slate article?) I remember years ago getting an email from a fellow lawyer at work who signed her email “xoxo.” This struck me as super odd at the time because she had always seemed like such a cool chick and this seemed to be the email equivalent of dotting her letter i with a heart — but I just brushed it off and assumed she was either being ironic or she was just cool enough to get away with such things.
So ladies, let’s hear from you: How do you end your emails? Dotted with hearts and flowers? (Kidding!) Best regards? Sincerely yours? Sincerely? Cheers? Talk soon? (I’ve always kind of thought of that last one as a threat more than a civil closing, but that’s the introvert in me…) Do you have strong opinions on this, or do you think this is yet another example of people policing women’s speech, nitpicking, etc.?
Psst: We’ve talked a lot about business correspondence issues over the years, including when to answer work email at home, when it’s ok to reply to a fax with an email, and when to use last names in business correspondence.
Further Reading on How to End Your Emails:
- Email Message Closing Examples [The Balance]
- 57 Ways to Sign Off on an Email [Forbes]
- What Your Sign-Off is Really Saying [Entrepreneur]
- Here is the Perfect Way to End an Email — and 28 Terrible Sign Offs [Business Insider]
- Why Your Email Sign-Off Is More Important Than You Think [Inc.]
Picture via Stencil.
just my first name
i just end my work emails with my name. if i have a request, i’ll end with “thanks!”
no fuss and i don’t think people keep reading for the ending of emails. most of the time people don’t even read the entire email.
When you’re just ending the email with your name, do you use a dash or anything before it?
Does it make a difference?
The dash makes the whole difference.
In the early days of training on text-based input on green-on-black monitors, we were taught to help people differentiate between the main text and the signature by the dash.
And still am.
Depending on context, I use Best, Thanks, or just put my name with no signoff whatsoever. I think it’s not something to overanalyze.
Occasional “Cheers,” but that’s a total know the recipient thing.
This is exactly what I do — one of the three options you mentioned above, depending on context.
I’m a staunch supporter of “Thanks,” or “Thanks!”
I have never though “Best” was cold. I do think “BR” is slightly snippy.
Me too. If it’s a Friday and I’m turning over a deliverable to a client, I might use “have a good weekend.”
I like sending emails on Fridays because it totally solves this problem for me.
Usually “Thanks”, occasionally “Thank you”, and when emailing colleagues in Europe it’s almost always “(Best) Regards” because that’s what they use in my experience.
I reviewed emails people sent me and it’s 75% no sign off except signature block. I think that’s the most interesting thing to come from my review.
(Or, if corresponding some someone outside my organization)
Vice President of Fin Technology
(Or, if I really mean it)
Vice President of Fin Technology
(or if I am really in a hurry)
Also, my friend regularly signs off “Best, Joan” and once she typoed and signed an email to her whole team, “Beast, Joan.”
I called her Beast for a week.
I’ve definitely done this, and also Breast, Pompom
Thankfully that went to work bff
I often send “Tanks!” instead of Thanks. Good thing I’m not a world leader
spit my water out on this one !
Hahaha. “Hanks, Fishie” is another. I assume people just think I am a huge Bosom Buddies fan.
Haha! Actually laughed out loud
Annnnd, that’s why I don’t use “best” :)
I always wondered where Best came from. Best what? Best wishes? Best of Luck? I say just say what you mean! Or nothing at all.
Personally, all of my emails have my ending already programmed into the Hardware. Every email has my name, at the TOP, and at the Bottom, it just says my name, “Ellen Barshevsky, Equity Partner” and then it has my FIRM email, NOT my personal email b/c it is the work account I am talking about..
That way, even my freinds who get my FIRM email know who I am. And that is important to me and them, and the other side if I am sending them a breif. YAY!!!
I “Kind regards” in my signature and “Best” if I’m in a hurry or typing a response on webmail rather than Outlook. However, before the closing I have a standard statement: “If you have any questions, please let me know”; so I’d be surprised if many people read all the way to the signature, unless we haven’t corresponded before.
I do work for a partner who has built into his signature block “Kind Regards, Partner.” For a while I thought it was sort of smart – just build the reply directly into your automatically populated email signature and never think twice about it. Then he sometimes sends emails that are meant to be joking/funny/sarcastic. And they come across as joking/funny until his signature and the “Kind Regards, Partner” totally changes the tone of the email. I have been confused about his emails more than once, especially when we first started working together.
I recognize that I am probably the only person who actually reviews and spends a few seconds analyzing how people sign off emails.
A partner at my firm does this, but he often sends terse or kind of mean emails so the “Kind Regards!” is always like a slap in the face, ha
Pro tip, in outlook you can create multiple signatures. I have about 3 and they cover 99% of situations.
Unrelated to above discussion, but for the last couple of days a Dr. Pepper ad has been at the top of the screen whenever I pull up this website. The sound starts automatically (slow, loud banging on a drum) and I can’t shut it off. Can’t install ad block on this computer. (Not even sure why I’m seeing this ad, since I don’t drink soda.) Any suggestions?
This is why my computer is always on mute – nothing quite says ‘I’m not working’ like a blaring ad.
I stopped using “Thanks” as my go-to about 5 years ago unless I was specifically asking the recipient for something. This is my current spectrum:
Best – the standard
Best wishes – for more personal recipients/warmer overall tone of email
Best regards – newer/external contacts that I don’t know as well or a large group/committee
Thanks – only if I’m asking for something
Many thanks – if I’m asking for something on a tight deadline or the recipient is British (this has been the standard sign off from my London colleagues for years so I use it with them)
This is exactly my approch
“Best” for most things, “thanks” or “thank you” if I’m making a request (and which depends on how well I know that person and/or their hierarchy). Rarely just my name (if it’s a long chain with someone I know well, no sign-off or name…)
I don’t think best is cold & antiquated but I also remember reading it’s not the best (ha) way to sign off an email. I’m GenX so maybe all the Millennials I email think I’m an old fogey. Ah well ;-)
I’m technically a millennial and I didn’t realize until reading Kay’s post that there was any problem using “Best”… I sign off nearly every email that way and don’t plan on changing. It’s simple, succinct, and positive. What more could someone want out of an email sign off?
I use “Be well,” as my email sign off.
Since 90% of the emails I send at work are asking for someone to complete a task, I close with “Thank you kindly,” a sign-off I stole from my supervisor. If the word “thanks” is in the last sentence or two of the email, I use “Best.” And for internal emails, it’s usually “thanks” or just my signature block.
I made a commitment to myself to stop using “thanks” if I was not making a request. I used to do it out of an urge to supplicate as a young attorney, but think about it– I’m drafting an email to bossman letting him know that I’ve completed a 30 hour assignment in 2 days and am providing him 20 pages of brilliant legal analysis and I’m telling him “thanks?” Nope. I usually will add “please let me know if you have any questions” or “let me know your thoughts” to end the body of the email.
I’ll use “best,” or just put my name. Anything else seems overwrought unless it’s a very important email to a very important person.
It is my work goal to get to a point of familiarity with my boss where I can just sign my first initial. #lame #needsvalidation
I don’t think it really matters. I sign off with Best, Thanks, Sincerely, or just my name.
I use Love and Fabuliciousness
Never too soon.
I found the post and posted a link, but it’s in mod. It’ll come.
And for everyone else that did not experience this live time–FOUND IT!:
I just spit soda everywhere.
That entire thread….much thanks for linking it.
I use Kind regards and it’s built into my footer. So everyone gets it, unless I am on mobile or remote.
Sincerely or Very truly yours are both old fashioned.
Unless it’s something completely unusual or inappropriate, I don’t think it matters much if we are talking US to US correspondence.
Generally, I use thanks if I am asking for something or my name only if I am not. I deviate from that if I am corresponding with someone outside of the US who is more formal. This usually happens when I am corresponding with a customer in APAC. I then mirror their salutations.
If you work in an industry where response rate is important (sales, etc) “Best” isn’t the best.
ETA: In sales, it is common to make a request in emails, because some people feel badly not responding to a direct question or request, so ending with “thanks” is more appropriate.
It is technically incorrect to thank people when making a request. You thank them after they have fulfilled the request. But I grit my teeth and use “thanks” for requests anyway because I know it’s expected.
Just put your name. I hate salutations in email.
We are discussing the complimentary close, not the salutation.
For outside emails, my autosig includes
Direct line phone number
For internal, it’s my first name and my extension. I do this because I don’t tend to save my contacts in any organized fashion; I rely on pulling up a recent email and looking at the signature block to find a phone number. I’ve noticed I’m not the only one who does this, so I try to always include my contact number in the email. I don’t think it matters that much how you sign your emails otherwise. Depending on context I might use thanks, regards, or just my name.
I suppose I’m in the minority here, but I kind of hate “Best.” I usually sign off with “Thanks” regardless as I feel like it’s a neutral signature – sort of as if “Thanks for taking the time to read this.” I don’t type my name because I have a block that appears in each email.
I had a boss that did this and it was often a bit confusing. like, “I’m running late. Thanks, Boss.” He also liked if we all signed off “yours truly” on formal letters and I found that a bit flippant, somehow.
I tend to do “best” or “all best” but I haven’t put too much thought into it besides just not liking other options. Someone I work with does, “all my very best” but it reads as insincere to me, mostly because this person is not so very nice, imo. I do try to use “thanks” whenever it’s contextually appropriate and I love Friday emails for the “have a good weekend” opportunity.
“Very truly yours” is the formal way to close a business letter.
I don’t end my e-mails with “best” because I feel it is an adjective looking for a noun or a noun looking for a definite article – oh the pain of being trained as a copy editor. And one can never read really bad paperback novels for fun because of the red pencil syndrome.
Thanks, (if I’m asking for something)
I usually use Best regards, sometimes Best or Regards. I might start using just my name though. More words create more opportunities to have an unfortunate typo. Like today when my “R” key was sticking and I almost signed off with “Best egads”.
LOL! Memories of Scarlet Pimpernel!
Well known Clients
Not well known Clients
I use thanks or thanks so much when asking for something.
I could not disagree with people who say this is not important. It is highly important for correspondence with people in other countries. I worked in a German law firm and they would ask me all the time why Americans signed emails Regards one time v. Best Regards another. They assumed if someone left of the Best when they had put it there before, that the sender was upset/angry/displeased in some way. There was also inquiry as to whether Sincerely was different from Regards or Best regards, etc. As a result, I sign all communications with clients and foreign agents Best regards. I use Regards for opposing counsel. For internal emails I sometimes don’t use anything. It depends on the relationship with the recipient.
* meant could not disagree more. ugg
British, and yes I also notice when people change their response and briefly wonder why.
Yep–my first jobs out of college were in London, and that’s why I use Kind regards. Seemed to go over pretty universally well with a lot of different cultures. It was seen as really formal in Silicon Valley, when I moved there later, but I don’t care….
‘Thanks, techgirl’ if I’ve asked for something and have spoken/communicated with the person before.
‘Kind regards, techgirl’ if it’s not someone I know particularly well internally, or someone from a third party.
‘-TG’ if it’s my boss/team.
I posted about this before, but I had a case where I introduced as exhibits a bunch of e-mails from an HR manager who had an automatic “Cheers!” in her closing line. The messages were all about whether the company should close up for a day or more because of the possibility of civil unrest in the area due to an impending jury verdict in the case of (yet another) unarmed black motorist killed by a police officer. The perky salutation came off as clueless and tone-deaf, even though she explained that it was automated.
Do not be this person.
I switch mine around a bit.
“Best” if it’s to someone I know well but haven’t talked to in awhile.
“Sincerely” if it’s formal.
“Thanks” for anything that warrants it- if they did something or I’m asking them to do something.
“-S” if it’s super quick.
No sign off if it’s super, super quick.
Funny story though: My mentor used to be in the military, and his signature is set up to send “Sincerely, Mentor” with every single email. So I’d get emails when he was my boss that were incredibly informal- inside jokes or quick responses to a question- and signed “Sincerely, Mentor.” Made me laugh- and made my mom crack up every time.
Nobody’s mentioned “respectfully”. Maybe it’s more of a gov or military thing?
Depending, I use Thanks, Best/Best Regards, or Respectfully.
anon dot gov
I don’t like Best because it seems lazy and insincere to me. Best what? Best Regards is ok though.
Fluent in Sarcasm
I once ended with:
Your obedient servant.
(Yes, I was being sarcastic).
I have the honor to be
“Thanks” when I really mean it, “Thank you” when I’m being a bit more professional or mildly passive aggressive, and “Very truly yours” when I’m in full-on angry lawyer mode (though now I’m wondering if that phrase is getting outdated?).
If I made a request in the email:
I sign off with
If they made a request in a email and I am responding
as that I am on the project
I sign off with
Many experts recommend that emails that end with a Thanks or a Thanks in Advance have the highest chance of an action rate. But a lot of people use the generic Best too – safe, but it works.
Kristen Lastname (default)
Kristen Lastname (if I’ve made a request)
Kristen Lastname (if I’m angry or serious or for any other reason not my usual “warm” self)
Close acquaintances or colleagues get Kristen (no Lastname) with or without any of the sign offs above, very close get “K” with no signoff
I’ve used All the Best, for years. It works for me.
Depending upon the individual I may change how I sign off. If a request, thank you. When emailing someone from the community, especially a leader, or one of our funders, I often sign off with “Respectfully” and my signature block.
I’ve never really thought about this. But I usually end my emails with “Thanks”. I guess I end it like this because I want to always be polite when I’m speaking to someone. And we’ve always been taught to say “please” and “Thank You”. But I think that as long as it’s a polite and mature ending, it’s okay.