How to close an email

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:

Rob Temple's email 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.

How to close an email

It’s important 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.

Here’s my personal top five and bottom five email sign-offs:

Best 5 email sign-offs
  1. Regards. A good, short salutation which works for most formal emails. Adding Kind makes it a little less formal, and warmer.
  2. 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.
  3. <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.
  4. Every good wish. Apparently this was used by Winston Churchill on his correspondence, and I think it’s a quirky alternative to Best wishes.
  5. Talk soon. Gives out warmth and optimism about positive future interaction.
Worst 5 email sign-offs
  1. Best. Greenfield describes this as “empty and meaningless”. I dislike it too—best what?
  2. Thx/Rgds. Lazy, and shows a lack of regard.
  3. 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.
  4. Thanks in advance. Can sound a bit presumptuous, placing obligation on the recipient.
  5. 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.

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