It’s so haaaaard to say goodbye …
That’s especially the case when writing an email. How are you supposed to end one? What sign-off conveys the right emotion, is the best expression of gratitude or is the most appropriate signature for a formal situation?
After all, while a ciao might work for a response to a close relative, it may not be the best way to sign a professional email to a potential client or employer.
Email etiquette is a universe of its own. Not only is there plenty of space for misinterpretation – one can really read into the subtext of a simple “thanks” – but also creativity. You don’t have to use the same response over and over. And even if you do, you may want to consider using an email signature template that incorporates a phone number, graphics and social icons.
So what’s the best email closing? The right answer will change according to the content and context of the message, as well as intended email recipient(s). Here are some examples to guide you in crafting that perfect email sign-off.
6 of the best ways to end an email
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top ways to sign an email. We’ll get into the specifics later, but each of these six sign-offs is a safe bet as either a professional email closing or a way to wrap up a personal email.
1. Best wishes
You can pull off a “best wishes” in both personal and professional email settings. It’s not too forward and definitely not standoffish, which makes it a versatile closing. You can even lop off the “wishes” and go with “best,” which can evoke the same warm tone you would like to project.
Brrr, this email ending can seem downright frigid. However, for all the flak it gets, “regards” is well-used in business and professional communication. It’s a buttoned-up way to say “goodbye” to buttoned-up people, like a boss, which makes it a very effective formal email closing. If you want, you can juice this with a “warm regards,” “kind regards” or “best regards” if the occasion warrants.
3. Many thanks
What’s better than “thanks”? Many thanks! If you’re truly feeling the gratitude, “many thanks” is a way to express that sincerity without getting overly gushy. The phrasing is appropriate enough for work emails. Say you’re on deadline and get some help that eases the burden: a “many thanks” would certainly suffice.
A traditional business letter closing, “sincerely” is tried and true. It’s usually considered highly formal, so be judicious in how you use it. “Sincerely” doesn’t exactly work if it comes after “Can you pick up milk and eggs?” However, this closing line does work if you’re ending a cover letter or college application, or reaching out to a new prospect for the first time. “Sincerely yours” can lighten the mood a bit, but still retain the tone of a complimentary closing that people expect in a business email.
5. Hope to hear from you
Sometimes, an email closing has to accomplish another objective than just saying “thanks.” If, for example, you need to prod an email recipient for a response, a “hope to hear from you” can get the job done. Just be careful in how you frame it: “Looking forward to hearing from you” or “hope this helps” are both good alternatives. Another variation on this closing phrase is “see you soon,” which might fit if you’re scheduling an in-person meeting or plan to see a business contact at a conference or industry event.
This cheery sign-off has found its way across the pond and into the vernacular of seemingly every American office worker. It’s a light-hearted substitute for the overused “thanks” and is a good end-note for conversations with familiar faces. Better served as an informal email sign-off, “cheers” can be used as an implied “confirmed” or “got it.”
How to sign an email to …
The identity of the email recipient is a big factor in how you choose to sign an email. You don’t want to end up sending your “fondest regards” to family relations and “all of your love” to your departmental boss. Consider your audience. Here’s how to sign an email to:
Depending on your level of familiarity, you might want to mix in both “cheers” and “many thanks” to a professor or instructor. However, always be aware of the formal relationship between teacher and student. Try to avoid slang or abominations like “thx :3” — or even worse, emoticons.
Your family and friends
Etiquette is much looser when talking with family and friends over email. You can sign off just about any way you like, whether referencing an inside joke or with the aforementioned “ciao.” Be cognizant of the context, though, whether you’re asking something from your parents or sending an invitation to a close friend. It shouldn’t have to be said, but save “xoxo” for that special someone in your life.
Business is business, and when it comes to emailing customers and potential clients, always keep to best practices and be professional. Over time, those parameters may become flexible, like if you want to project a really friendly brand voice. Easy-going email closings can also help build trust and familiarity between day-to-day contacts and team members. If it’s a customer service issue, however, try to be deferential.
“Catch you on the flipside, kemosabe” might be what you want to say but, unless your boss is a totally rad dude, that closing would likely flop. Office relationships are often governed by decorum, especially in talking to higher-ups. You might be able to get away with something a little less stiff if you are emailing an immediate boss, but it’s usually better to err on the side of business correspondence norms rather than risk coming across as unprofessional.
What about email signatures?
Email signatures are a great tool if you’re a prolific emailer, or just want to spice up oft-mundane emails.
Basically, a signature is a block of text that’s automatically added to the end of every email you send from the account the signature is associated with. Typically, a professional email signature includes your full name, job title, contact information (e.g., work and personal phone numbers), social media icons (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) and a business URL. Usually some type of graphic or design element is included, like a company logo or colored line.
Don’t know how to create one? Gmail has an easy walkthrough for setting up signatures, and Outlook has one too.
Here are some tips for incorporating an email signature into your communication repertoire:
- Keep it to three or four lines: Anything longer and you’re stuffing it. Signatures are meant to be brief and informative.
- Use a signature template: If your business has a preferred signature, don’t tinker with it. It’s been designed for your use and brand cohesiveness, so just fill it out with your info.
- Include something personal: If you’re creating a personal signature, think about including a favorite movie or inspirational quote. Just make sure it doesn’t run too long.
- Don’t include an image: A picture or graphic image would sure look nice in an email, but the chances that formatting will get all wonky are high. Keep it simple – a small thumbnail or a company or personal logo.
- A signature is not a P.S.: If you want to include a post-script, do it before the signature, but after the closing. A signature is not the place for a P.S. note.
- Be witty: If you’re looking to inject some humor into the daily email, maybe brew up a signature that pokes some fun at autocorrect. Something like “Sent from my tablet. All thoughts my own, all typos my iPad’s” is one good example.
Common email sign-off mistakes to avoid
Just about everyone has had a “reply all” panic in their life. Once an email is sent, there’s no taking it back – unless of course you use Gmail’s handy undo message function within the allotted 30 seconds.
To that end, these tips will help you avoid common mistakes when writing an email:
- Don’t forget about accessibility: If you’re including an email signature, make sure it’s formatted for those with visual impairments or other disabilities. This Outlook guide helps explain the need for email accessibility and how to achieve it.
- Read, reread and proofread: Chances are you want to fire off that email as soon as you’re done writing it. However, chances are there’s a typo lurking somewhere. Take the time to proofread. Also be sure to double check you’re not sending a professional email from a personal account.
- Experiment with different email closings: You don’t have to stick to one script when signing an email. If you want to get creative, go ahead and try, provided it is the right setting. Mixing in different sign-offs and variations, like “cheers,” “warmest regards” or “best wishes,” can help keep your email game fresh.
Here’s the bottom line about the bottom line: Do what you feel is best in order to leave a positive impression. You’ll best understand the tenor and tone of the email, so choose an appropriate farewell. Just remember to vary your sign-offs, find a signature template and proofread your emails.
Editor’s note: Updated November 2020.