The hard work is done – you’ve written a thoughtful, well-argued, concise email for a professional reason, perhaps even as part of a job application. Then you reach the bottom and face the perpetual question: How do I end this email?
“Smell you later” might work between frat brothers (especially if they’re “Simpsons” fans), but for your business letter you’re probably going to need a sign-off that’s a bit more sophisticated.
Can you ever go wrong with “Sincerely”? Is “Truly yours” an option, or is it “Yours truly”? What about “Best”? Or “Cheers”?
That final sign-off line is formally known as a “complimentary close,” and there are many options to choose from. Here’s what we’ll discuss in this blog:
- The best methods for writing the last paragraph of your email
- Seven great closings for a business email
- Email endings to avoid
- Punctuation, grammar and the finer details
How to end an email — the last paragraph
Before you reach the goodbye stage of ending your email professionally, be sure you’ve wrapped up the content with an appropriate concluding paragraph. Depending on the content, the last paragraph of a business email may serve to thank the recipient and/or to issue a call to action, such as by suggesting that you look forward to discussing the matter further.
Example of an email concluding paragraph with a thank you and call to action:
I hope you agree that my experience, enthusiasm and love for animals make me a great fit for your position as a veterinary assistant. I’m always reachable at the contact info listed below, and I’d be delighted to discuss this further with you at your convenience. Thank you for taking the time to review my application.
A good final paragraph allows you to “humanize” a letter by expressing gratitude and eagerness to continue the conversation. It also serves as a polite reminder to the recipient that you would really appreciate a reply.
For more information on how to write a standout closing paragraph, see our comprehensive guide “ How to write a cover letter.”
All set with a great final paragraph to end your email? Now, on to that last word (or three) you need to write….
How to end an email professionally: 7 appropriate closings
Leave a space between your last paragraph and the complimentary close. Put a comma at the end, add a return and type your full name below that.
Bobby Fischer said the E4 chess opening (pushing the king’s pawn two squares) was “best by test” – predictable, expected, unsurprising and yet superior. The same could be said of “Sincerely,” which is probably the most common business letter close, and it’s never inappropriate in formal business correspondence. The only times to avoid “Sincerely” are when sending a more casual note to someone you know, as it sounds too formal.
2. All my best
This is a good option that strikes the right tone but is not so commonly used. In a cover letter, it suggests on one level that you’re sending all your best wishes, but on another level that you’re bringing your A-game by offering “all your best” qualities as a job candidate.
3. Best wishes
Another “best” closing, this is a friendly way of saying that you wish the best for the recipient.
Shorthand for both of the above, the stand-alone “Best” is a slightly more casual way to end an email. You might want to save this for routine business correspondence rather than more high-stakes communications, like a cover letter seeking a job.
5. Regards / Kind regards
Another traditional close, “Regards” is widely considered acceptable, though it may strike the ear as a bit old-fashioned.
6. Respectfully / Respectfully yours
Sometimes frowned on as too formal, variants of “Respectfully” can be useful in emails where you want to stress your respect for someone. Perhaps you are sending an email to complain about a defective product you ordered, or to express an opinion that may differ from that of the recipient. “Respectfully” can send a signal that despite any disagreements, your message is submitted with nothing but respect.
7. Thank you / Many thanks / With gratitude
These are options for an email in which you are making some kind of request or hoping the recipient will do something for you. They may be too sterile for a cover letter, but they can be useful in the right context.
Business email closings to avoid
1. Love / Hugs / xoxo
You want to be friendly with your correspondent – not intimate. Avoid closes that suggest romance or displays of affection.
2. Have a good one
Have a good what? Too casual for business correspondence.
3. Have a blessed day
Unless you’re applying for a job as a church organist, avoid expressions that sound religious or inspirational.
4. Talk to you later
You can use this one on your friends, or on a well-known business contact that you talk to often, but otherwise avoid this close as too casual.
Though perfectly acceptable among friends, “Cheers” is generally considered too informal for proper business letters. Save this one until you know your correspondent well.
6. Yours truly / Truly yours
These timeworn choices will not set off alarms, as people are used to seeing them. But what does it mean when you say you’re “truly yours” to business correspondents you don’t even know? Doesn’t it suggest you’re at their service, prepared to do anything they ask? In the real world, you are not really “theirs,” so perhaps it’s best to avoid suggesting that you are.
7. No sign-off at all
An email with no sign-off at the bottom is unacceptable in almost all business correspondence. The one exception to this rule is if you are working closely with someone and are exchanging a lot of short emails back to forth.
Email closings for business: capitalization, punctuation and signature
Whatever sign-off you choose, capitalize the first word only (i.e., write “Best wishes,” not “Best Wishes”).
End your sign-off with a comma: “Sincerely,” “Best,” etc. Then add a return and type your name below that.
If writing to someone you don’t know, use your full name here. But if and when you strike up a correspondence and get to know each other, using your first name alone is fine.
You may want to create an automatic email signature that contains your full name, occupation, email address, phone number and perhaps a website that showcases your work. This can be useful if your recipient decides she prefers to just pick up the phone and call you. If you do have a complete signature with contact info at the bottom, you can usually just use your first name above that. For example:
All my best,
Certified Public Accountant
How to end an email professionally: key takeaways
- Make sure your final paragraph effectively wraps up your letter, usually by expressing thanks and containing some kind of call to action.
- The words you choose for the line above the signature should reflect your relationship with the recipient and the level of formality your topic requires.
- Avoid closes that are too casual in formal business correspondence. But once you get to know someone, more casual sign-offs are expected.
- Using an automatic signature with your full name, occupation, contact info and website gives recipients other ways to reach you and learn more about you.
All our best,