New York Etiquette Guide

Business E-mail: Sign-Off Etiquette You Need to Know

Posted on Sat, Jul 26, 2014

The topic of how to sign-off an email is one that has perplexed and concerned many onliners. Those who are concerned about being perceived favorably wonder about how to leave the appropriate tone, close with the intended meaning getting across as well as how not to look redundant by always including the same closing. 

First things first. All sign-offs need to include your name. Whether you include your first name alone or first and last name is dependent on the level of formality in your e-mail. For first time contacts you can include your last name, but in subsequent communications that isn’t necessary. If you have your e-mail program setup properly, your last name is in the From: field.

Not only does how you sign your name set the tone of an e-mail, so does how you choose to sign-off. Some have their own way of signing off that reflects individuality or their personality. For example, I am known for signing off my emails with “At your service,” or “Virtually,”. (If you see anyone else using these closings, you now know where they got it from!)

Then there are the most popular:

Best regards,
Best wishes,
Kindest regards,
Warmest regards,
I remain yours truly,
Thanks again,
My sincere thanks for your time and consideration,
Take care,
Continued success,

You wouldn’t use “I remain yours truly” in business communications, but you would use that closing with someone you admire, like or would like to have a friendly e-mail relationship with. Whereas “Regards,” is the other end of the scale. Very professional, unemotional and depending on the content of the e-mail could be perceived as a terse closing.

One must take the time to choose a sign-off that is indicative of the overall tone of your e-mail. A sign-off that does not match the essence of the e-mail’s text can be perceived as being sarcastic or down right rude. For example, I doubt if you were sending a professionally stern e-mail that you would sign off with “Warmly,”!

The above examples are not the end-all-be-all either. Your sign-off isn’t exclusively the words above your name separated by a comma. You can also use phrases that reflect the purpose of your email as well. Some examples could be:

Good Job!
All the best of success!
Have a great day!
Happy Holidays!
Keep up the good work!
Thank you!
Thank you for your quick response.
Thank you for taking your time.
Looking forward to your reply.
Enjoy your weekend!
HTH! (Hope This Helps!)
Have a good one!

Your closing, while very important, is only the icing on the cake. It needs to be inline with the overall tone and demeanor of your email to ensure that your message is delivered with clarity and leaves no room for misunderstandings or incorrect perceptions.

And that is the dilemma we all face when writing and closing our e-mails. Using our discretion to determine the best words to use to relay the exact tone and intent with clarity to avoid misunderstandings. From how you open your email with a salutation to the content and then the sign-off, each part of your e-mail is a component that contributes to the overall interpretation of your message.

By taking your time and choosing your words carefully, your sign-offs will just be one more indicator of what a pleasure it will be to communicate with you.

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