Can you remember the last email that you sent, both formal and addressed to a friend? What did you write at the very end of it, following the message itself? Did you have a signature? Or did you just put a standard closing, such as “Best regards”? Or did you include no sign-off whatsoever?
Many end an email with “Best” or “Regards,” or similar sign-offs. How good are they in terms of email etiquette? In which cases should you thank a person and when it’s proper to say “Lots of love”? And when do you need to include a full signature? In this article, we’ll look at some sign-off words and phrases that are an absolute no-go for business emails. You will also see some great examples of how to end your emails.
What is an email sign-off?
An email sign-off, an email closing, or a sign-off message, is what comes at the end of your email after the body text. Usually, it consists of a closing phrase and your name following it. In business correspondence, a sign-off also includes a full email signature.
Why you need an email sign-off in the first place?
- This is what email etiquette requires. It is only polite to add something at the end, at least your name and a standard phrase like “Best regards,” thank someone for taking time to read the message, or wish your recipient a great day.
- People need some closure. You must signal that your message has come to an end. It’s similar to communicating with a radio set where you end your single transmissions with “Over” to let the other people know it’s their turn to speak.
- Your email is both a message and a letter. When you write letters, you usually sign them off.
- A sign-off can serve as a message on its own. Complementary in its nature, it can provide your collocutor with some additional information, such as your contact details.
- As a full-fledged business signature, your sign-off can also be a useful marketing tool. It could, for example, help you increase your click-through rate or act as an invitation to engage with your brand.
You need to use your sign-offs strategically. Before sending an email, think what its purpose is and design your closing accordingly.
First of all, let’s see how you shouldn’t end your messages.
Bad sign-off examples
Here is a list of sign-off phrases and practices that you should avoid.
You might have seen somewhere that you can end your message with a quote. Don’t do this. Quotes, inspirational or not, might confuse the recipient. They might misunderstand your initial intention, which could lead to miscommunication. Alternatively, your collocutor might just disagree with the quote altogether.
Don’t write too much at the end of your email. A one-phrase closing will suffice. If you are using a business email signature, don’t make it more than five lines big. Why should it take more time reading your closing than a person spent reading the email itself?
It’s also bad if you don’t include any sign-off at all. You should at least put your name at the end preceded by a standard closing phrase. In business emails, it’s essential that you have a professional signature, so that the recipient can easily access your contact or business details.
The only time when the closing is not necessary is when there is a conversation chain. It can be enough to use your signature just once.
You’d better avoid this Apple-specific sign-off unless you want your message to be “By the way, I have an iPhone. I still have trouble getting used to its keyboard, therefore the typos.” There are also creative versions of this sign-off, which can do in informal messages. Still, the sent-from-my-iPhone jokes get old quickly and are rarely fun to read more than once.
Don’t use such abbreviations at the end of your emails either. First of all, it shouldn’t be so much trouble for you to write the full words. Secondly, not all of your recipients can understand those.
Although it seems like a perfectly normal informal sign-off, some people are suspicious of it. For some, it might sound as if you were warning them of something bad to happen. Wishing them simply a good day instead would be a far better message.
Looking forward to hearing from you
Although this closing is considered as a classic, it appears as too formal and outdated. For some, it might even feel threatening, as if you were saying “You’d better write me soon, or else…”
Yours truly and Yours faithfully
This kind of closings just sounds fake. You can still use them with your beloved one during the honeymoon phase, but only if it doesn’t feel awkward to both of you.
This sign-off is considered appropriate solely in correspondence with government officials. You should avoid it unless you are writing an email to the President.
Because of its religious tint, this closing is better to be avoided. Therefore, it is entirely inappropriate in business messages.
If you ever consider putting a smiley face or any other emoji at the end of your email, you should think twice. What message do you want to communicate to the other person this way? Will they understand it the right way? It would fit only in a friendly email that ends with a joke.
There are dozens of ways to sign off an email. Before choosing one, you should always think whether it is appropriate in this particular case and whether your recipient understands it the same way as you. If you are not sure, then go with one of the universal closings outlined in the following paragraphs.
Email sign-off best practices
A study by Boomerang listed email sign-offs with the greatest response rates (over 50%). Here are the eight of them:
- Thanks in advance - 65.7%
- Thanks - 63%
- Thank you - 57.9%
- Cheers - 54.4%
- Kind regards - 53.9%
- Regards - 53.5%
- Best regards - 52.9%
- Best - 51.2%
Image courtesy of Boomerang
Let us look at email sign-off best practices closer. They will be a bit different in business emails as compared to informal, or friendly, emails.
Business email sign-offs
First of all, it is advisable that you use a proper signature when you sign off a business email. A business signature should consist of the following:
- A closing line
- Your name (in most cases, both first and last name)
- Your title in the company
- Name of the company
- Your company’s website
- Your business contact details
- The company’s logo
Optional are also: your photo (a headshot), links to the relevant social profiles, additional information, such as links, promotional or marketing banners, etc. If you want to know what other professionals include in their business sign-offs, you can check out our State of Business Email Marketing report. We surveyed more than 750 marketers and business owners to find out both the best practices and the challenges faced when implementing professional email signatures in business communications.
As for the closings, you can pick one of these before your name:
- Regards, Best regards, or Kind regards
- Thank you, Thanks in advance, or Thanks. Be sure it doesn’t sound pushy and you really have something to thank for.
- Sincerely (although it might sound a bit pretentious)
- Best wishes (think first whether it is appropriate in your particular case)
- Best (although it sometimes seems a bit dull)
- Hope to hear from you soon. Use it only if you are really expecting your recipient to reply. Also, if you are using the closing that starts with “Hope to,” then you should add more context to it.
- Have a great day is another polite and good-hearted way to end an email. You can also try replacing “great” with synonyms, such as “lovely,” “splendid,” or “wonderful.”
Less formal email sign-offs
When writing a message to a friend, using full email signatures is not necessary. You can just go with a closing line and your name at the end. Here are some of the good friendly sign-offs:
- Thanks. It works in almost every case. If you have something to thank for, then you should certainly go for it.
- Cheers is a perfect sign-off for an informal email. Again, according to Boomerang, it will get you the highest response rate after “thank-you.” You should, however, know that this closing is mostly used in UK and Europe.
- Warmest regards is a friendlier alternative to “Best regards” or just “Regards.” It should work in any case.
- Love or Lots of love is a way to sign off an email to a really good friend or a family member. Don’t use it with just anyone.
- Alternatively, you can write Hugs to a close friend at the end of your email.
- Take care is also an excellent informal way to end an email. Though you must make sure that a person you’re writing to has nothing against it (or uses it him- or herself).
To sum it all up, let us say that you should always sign your email off with a proper closing. While in business emails you normally need a full-fledged business signature with your organization’s name, logo, and contact details, you are more flexible with informal emails.
And remember the things you should avoid in your email closings:
- Sign-off quotes
- Words and phrases that might have a double meaning
- Sign-offs that might suggest a more intimate relationship with a recipient than you currently have
- Old-fashioned closings
- Emojis that might be misunderstood
- Abbreviations or contractions