What’s the best way to close an email?
Rob Temple’s Very British Problems book has two pages exposing the hidden meanings we read into closing salutations, or sign-offs:
You may write a brilliant email, but an inappropriate or thoughtless sign-off can wind readers up. So consider which ones are right for the occasion before pressing send.
The important thing is to not have a stock sign-off for every email. Think about the formality, relationship and purpose of your email when deciding how to close it.
Strictly a matter of opinion of course, but here’s my personal top five and bottom five email sign-offs:
Best 5 email sign-offs
- Regards. A good, short salutation which works for most formal emails. Adding Kind makes it a little less formal, and warmer.
- Thanks. Simple and no-nonsense, I use this the most. Business etiquette expert Cynthia Lett disapproves, and suggests it should be only used as a thank you. I say you are thanking your reader, for their attention.
- <no salutation>. Bloomberg’s Rebecca Greenfield advocates this. She says if your email “ends with a thought or question, you don’t need [a sign-off], and you still sound professional”. I agree we don’t always need it after making initial contact.
- Every good wish. Apparently this was used by Winston Churchill on his correspondence, and I think it’s a quirky alternative to Best wishes.
- Talk soon. Gives out warmth and optimism about positive future interaction.
Worst 5 email sign-offs
- Best. Greenfield describes this as “empty and meaningless”. I dislike it too—best what?
- Thx/Rgds. Lazy, and shows a lack of regard.
- Take care. The intention is probably fine, but it sounds either a little ominous, or that the writer doesn’t want to speak to you again any time soon.
- Thanks in advance. Can sound a bit presumptuous, placing obligation on the recipient.
- Lengthy signatures, including quotations, legal disclaimers and preaching about printing. Pointless. Try and keep these as short as possible and ensure they have a purpose.
How about you, which sign-offs do you use, and which ones do you hate and why?
Want to learn more? Take a look at my half-day course for improving emails. It includes practising techniques for writing for action and persuasion, activities on tone and style and exercises for improving accuracy.