Dear Busy Person,
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?
You could scour the internet, of course. Because when you’re busy, there’s nothing like wading through 57 email sign offs, a round up of the 5 other ways to say “thank you in advance”, and 69 alternatives to “regards”.
Yeah, because you have that kind of time. Good luck with that.
Or, you can stop right here. Because really all you need is a grab bag of five options.
The 5 best business email sign offs
TL;DR: In a hurry to get the best email closing for that business correspondence?
Here are our top five picks for the best business email sign offs:
- All the best
- Thanks in advance
- Best regards
If you want to know the method behind our professional email sign off madness though, strap in.
How you end your business email matters
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.
Picking the best sign off
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, 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 comes 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 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.”
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.
All the best.
Posted in: Email