Good communication is always important, no matter if you’re talking with your boss, professor, clients, or friends.
But these days, most of that communication is carried out digitally, whether you need to reach someone a few offices down, on the next floor, or in another country.
To leave a strong, positive impression, it’s important that you choose your words carefully when drafting emails or memos.
But it’s not just the body of your message that counts—you could craft the most eloquent email, but still end up blowing it with an inappropriate closing.
To avoid embarrassing gaffes and send more effective emails, check out these tips for the best (and worst) email sign-offs.
How to End a Formal Email
The following sign-offs are appropriate for formal emails, or emails to people you don’t have a close relationship with. To decide which one is best for your situation, you’ll need to consider the purpose of your email.
“Regards” is one of the most common closings for formal emails and written correspondence. While it might seem a bit stuffy, it gets the job done.
And anyway, weren’t we always taught that it’s better to show up overdressed than underdressed? Well, same goes for your communication at work. It’s always better to come off slightly too formal than too casual when you’re writing a professional email.
Best suited for:
- Formal emails and letters
- Cover letters
- Letters of inquiry
- First-time exchanges with a recipient you don’t know well
- Emails to professors, clients, or companies
You can make this closing a bit more personal with these equally-appropriate variations:
- Warm regards
- Kind regards
There’s a reason you were taught to close your letters with “sincerely” back in the third grade: It works in pretty much any situation.
Sure, it might not make the most moving end to a love letter, but for work, “sincerely” is generally a pretty safe bet.
Best suited for:
- Emails to colleagues
- Business emails, especially when your work relationship with the recipient is new
- Pretty much any outside communication
Note: When it comes to professional emails, avoid the more personalized variation of “sincerely yours.” For one, you’re not actually someone else’s.
Two, it sounds like something Romeo would write to Juliet (and I’m going to go ahead and assume that’s not the relationship you have with your colleague, but I’ll mind my own business).
“Best” is another option that’s both light and safe.
It’s a slightly more personalized, warmer version of “regards,” and it’s among the most common email sign-offs you’ll come across at work.
Of course, when choosing a sign-off you’ll need to be the judge of a few key factors, such as your relationship with the recipient, the recipient’s usual communication style, and the content and tone of your message.
That being said, I’ve signed off with “best” a good many times, including some situations when I had never met the recipient (like in customer service emails, or when sending inquiries).
Best suited for:
- More casual work emails in which “regards” might seem too formal (when you need to contact tech support, outside vendors, or follow up with an inquiry, for example)
- Best wishes
- Best regards
4. Thank You
Obviously, this one is only relevant if you actually have something to thank the recipient for, or if you’ve asked them to do something.
In either situation, “thank you” is of course an appropriate closing—whether someone has done you a favor or you’ve politely asked them to do you a favor, expressing gratitude is always a good move.
Usually, however, if you’re thanking them for something that’s already been done, another line with your final closing is usually called for.
Thank you again for your time.
Best suited for:
- When you want to express gratitude
5. Thanks in Advance
“Thanks in advance” is one way to gently nudge your email’s recipient into taking action—just be sure that this nudge is appropriate and in fact what you want to convey.
If you’re offering your “thanks in advance,” it means you really expect the person to do what you’ve asked.
If you’re writing to someone to ask a true favor—in other words, not something you would normally expect them to do—this could come off a bit presumptuous.
In such cases, a simple “thank you” or any of the above sign-offs might be more suitable.
Best suited for:
- When you want to gently nudge the recipient into taking action
Download our list of professional email sign-offs to make sure you always end on the right note.
Email Sign-Offs to Avoid
If you’re writing a professional email, you may want to think twice before using the following sign-offs.
1. Take Care
While “take care” might seem like an innocent way of wishing someone well, there’s also a strong chance it will be interpreted as “proceed with caution” or “beware.”
Basically, you might as well have written, “Watch your back, Karen.”
So unless that’s what you actually want to say to Karen in accounting, you’re probably better off with a simple “best wishes” or “warm regards.”
2. Shorthand or Text-Style Writing
You’re not in grade school, and T9 isn’t a thing anymore, so please do not sign off with “Thnx,””TTYL,” or anything that’s not a complete word (unless your boss is, like, literally your BFF).
3. Yours Truly
Just as we noted with “sincerely yours” above, “yours truly” is probably just too affectionate for any semi-professional email.
Also, even if you were feeling super mushy toward someone, no one ever says that in real life.
4. No Sign-Off
Okay, so this is of course assuming that this is your first email in a thread/conversation. If you’ve been bouncing emails back and forth all day with your intended recipient, then you don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) end each and every message with a formal sign-off.
But if this is your first email—be it first ever or first in a new conversation—then neglecting to include any kind of sign-off can seem quite abrupt and impersonal.
After all, you wouldn’t just walk away from someone at the end of a conversation without saying anything at all (unless Karen is trying to start drama again).
Things to Remember
Once you’ve settled on the appropriate sign-off for your message, make sure you’ve included the following elements:
- Your pre-set signature (if you have one)
- Your full name
- Your contact info
ABC Company Procurement Manager
Choose the Best Email Sign-Off
When it comes to choosing the best sign-off for your email, always keep your intended audience in mind.
If you know that the recipient’s communication style is more relaxed, then you can try to match your style accordingly.
What’s your preferred email sign-off? Share your thoughts in the comments below!