You’ve worked hard crafting your email so that your message is clear, your tone is correct, your format is inviting, and you have eliminated all errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Now it’s time to decide on an email closing, and you’re stuck. All else being perfect, the way you sign off requires more than a little thought and finesse. It may only be a word or a phrase, but it needs to be well-chosen.
If you are struggling to find the most effective email closing, you are far from alone. Extensive research on this topic—and yes, I did the research—revealed that opinions on this topic are all over the map. In one article three email etiquette experts were asked their stance on a long list of email closings. The end result turned up little agreement among the three. No wonder you find this subject challenging.
Before you decide how to sign-off, you should consider your relationship to the recipient and the context of the email. What works for a good friend or close colleague most likely will not work for a business contact. What is appropriate for an initial email may come across as too formal as your connection develops.
Here are my suggestions on choosing your most effective email closing.
- Always use one. Not signing off is like walking out the door without saying good-bye. Too abrupt.
- Match your email closing to your salutation. This column devoted time some months ago to using effective and appropriate email salutations. A formal salutation requires a formal closing. An informal salutation should be followed by an informal closing.
- Consider using a closing statement in lieu of a closing word or two. Email tends to be more relaxed so once you have established a relationship with the recipient, you might end your email with something like, “Have a nice day”, “See you on Friday” or “Enjoy your vacation”.
- Be respectful but avoid “Respectfully/Respectfully yours”. According to Business Insider those closings are too formal and are to be reserved for government officials and clergy.
- Proceed gingerly when expressing thanks. Both “Thanks” and “Thank you” get high marks when used in the right circumstances. The Boomerang study found emails that convey appreciation receive the highest response rate. However, there are some people who think that writing “Thank you in advance” comes across as demanding and should be used with caution.
- Keep anything with religious overtones out of your professional correspondence. Avoid wishing someone a blessed day.
- Following your closing, let people know how you want to be addressed. If you want to be addressed by your first name, use only that in closing. If you prefer to keep things formal, sign off with your first and last name. If you are “Bill” and not “William”, now’s your chance to let that be known.
As always the goal is to be courteous, kind and respectful. Let your good sense and good judgment be your guide.
Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.