Your inbox is overwhelming, yet day after day you put in the hard work to write solid emails. Then you get to the end—and the panic sets in. How the heck are you supposed to figure out the best sign-off for your casual (or formal) business emails?
Now, it’s important that when sending employment or business-related email messages that you end your message professionally. You need to include a solid closing statement, email signature with contact information, and an appropriate sign-off. But what should those sign-off components look like?
Yeah, because you have that kind of time. Or, you can stop right here. Because really all you need is a grab bag of five options, as well as some effective tips to craft your own messages.
Tips for how to end your emails professionally
Before diving into the examples you can leverage it’s worth covering how to approach ending your emails. Yes, the word choice of your sign-off matters but including certain information and considering who you’re writing to is just as vital. Here are some things to consider when crafting your sign-off.
Consider your relationship with the recipient
Before even writing your email, it’s worth considering your relationship with the recipient. Are you close friends? Colleagues on the same team? Or just acquaintances that rarely interact?
This can help you determine how casual your sign-off can be. Just remember that no matter the relationship, it’s worth keeping your contact at least semi-professional when using your work email.
Use your full name
You’re likely not the only person your recipient is emailing, and there may be a good chance that other people in their inbox even have the same first or last name. Just to play it safe, and not confuse your colleague or contact, sign off using your full name.
Include relevant contact information
You may need to take your email conversation to a different platform depending on the conversation. As part of your signature, or in your closing statement, be sure to mention how the recipient can reach you in other ways. You may even want to call out a specific time or method that you intend to use. Even still, try to keep relevant information available in case the individual your messaging needs to reach out first.
Always include a closing
No matter if it’s your first, third, fifth, or even twentieth email in a thread. You must include a closing statement. This is not only professional, it also helps emphasize that what you sent is all you have to say at this time. Forgetting to include it can make your messages seem unnaturally abrupt or like you forgot to finish the email. So, either add an additional line to your email signature or just make adding a closing a part of your email writing routine.
Avoid unprofessional language
If this communication is coming through your business email, you should keep any closing language professional. It doesn’t matter if your best friends or even if you’re colleague used less professional language. Sticking to more business-centric terms will ensure that emails you send outside of this thread don’t accidentally stray into becoming overly casual.
Why your email closing and sign-off matter
For starters, it’s easy to leave a lot of email closings behind. In some ways, email is a continuation of centuries of heritage of letter writing, from business letters to more casual correspondence. Some traditional sign-offs, though, get lost in translation from paper to pixel. “Yours truly” sounds like your childhood pen pal letters. “Sincerely” can still work in cover letters, but it falls flat and comes off stodgy in all but the most formal emails.
While email has contributed to a more casual tone in overall business correspondence, there are business email sign-offs you still want to avoid when you’re wearing your work hat, such as “closings you would use with personal contacts or loved ones (‘Love,’ ‘Hugs,’ etc.),” says business email etiquette expert Judith “Miss eManners” Kallos.
“The general rule of thumb with business email is, if you wouldn’t do it on your business letterhead, you don’t do it in email.”
Judith contends the best email sign-off is the one that best matches the tone of the overall email and your relationship to the recipient. “A sign-off that does not match the essence of the email’s text can be perceived as being sarcastic or downright rude,” she explains. “For example, I doubt if you were sending a professionally stern email that you would sign off with ‘Warmly’!”
And by the way, after your closing, be sure to include a signature—the tried and true combo of your full name, your title, your, your organization, and relevant contact information, such as relevant phone numbers (typically office line and cell phone), email, main webpage, and, if relevant, one to three professional social media profiles.
The 5 best professional business email sign-offs
Here are some of the most common and useful email closings for sending professional emails.
- All the best
- Thanks in advance
- Best regards
While you now have five solid, use-anytime sign-offs that can work in pretty much every email, it can help to know when it’s best to use each.
All the best
Consider this one your basic black, a good go-to sign-off that you can confidently use with pretty much any business email.
“All the best” has been called the “Oprah hug of sign-offs.” It’s short, simple, and combines a touch of formal and professional with wording that evokes warm feelings.
This email sign-off can go a long way toward eliciting a positive response. At the very least, “All the best” can also leave the recipient with a sense that you are being genuine in your correspondence.
Thanks in advance
While variants of the breezy “Thanks” and standard “Thank you” are no strangers to the ends of email, “Thanks in advance” can seem a counterintuitive choice.
“Thanks in advance” is a longer phrase. It’s also more formal—some have called the phrase “too presumptuous”. However, when it comes to getting replies to your email, “thanks in advance” is also remarkably effective.
In 2017, the email app Boomerang analyzed the email sign-offs in over 350,000 email threads. Their surprising results? Despite its popularity, “Best” performed, well, worst. And “Thanks in advance” surprised everyone, pulling ahead of the pack—it “correlat[ed] with the highest response rates.”
“Thanking someone in advance when you are soliciting advice or require some sort of action will always encourage a positive response,” says Judith. “Of course, you would replace that with something more apropos if there is really nothing to thank the recipient for.”
When you want to keep it professional with just the barest warm touch, “Best regards” can be your best choice, says Judith. She says “Best regards” is “commonly used in business communications,” and the popular email sign-off adds a hint of formality without veering into stuffiness or pretension.
If “Best regards” isn’t your preference, the simple phrase is also versatile. Common email closings that riff on this theme includes “Best wishes,” “Fond regards,” “Kind regards,” “Warm regards,” “Warmest regards,” and, simply, “Regards.”
On the one hand, “Cordially” might be at risk of making someone feel like they are being kept at arm’s length. However, this is business, not personal email or a greeting card, and it can be okay to have a sense of professional separation.
Especially when emailing new contacts, cold leads, or someone you don’t know quite as well or correspond with often, that extra touch of formality can also strike a solid tone that’s just right in a business email sign-off.
“Cordially,” is “good for new contacts that you plan on additional communications with,” explains Judith. It’s solid, simple, professional, and a touch cool while making it clear that you are a capable pro.
“Respectfully” is similar to “Cordially,” but with a psychological twist. When you are contacting someone in a position of power and authority—or at least someone who likes to think they are—using “Respectfully” as your business email sign-off can be a subtle but important word choice.
It’s simple: “Respectfully” implies deference. If the person you’re emailing is in charge (or at least they need to feel in charge), you can speak to that in one word.
Another benefit? Whenever you have to send one of those emails that come off like a swung hammer, you can at least wrap it in velvet. The email can still hit home the way you need it to. By signing off with “Respectfully,” however, you’re reminding the recipient that this isn’t personal, it’s business, and you have to assert a strong position while signaling that you want things to work out for the best.
Why do your business emails need a sign-off at all?
Now that you know the best five business email sign-offs and when to use them, you might also wonder why we should bother with this at all. Why not just sign your name and be done?
Emails with people outside your organization—customers, stakeholders, and vendors—need a cordial sign-off the same way a phone call needs a farewell—or the same way cake needs icing.
“Not only does how you sign your name set the tone of an email, so does how you choose to sign off,” says Judith. “Your closing, while very important, is the icing on the cake. It needs to be in line 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.”
An email sign-off is also simply professional—and can help you avoid email embarrassment. An email with a simple but solid closing comes across as more thought out and put together. And when it comes to business, that’s exactly what you want to be.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2018 and updated for 2021.
Posted in: Email