You’ve just finished composing a perfect email. Double-checked for any errors or typos. Simply put, you’ve created a well-composed piece of art. And then, you get blocked by the shortest and, in theory, easiest email part – the email sign-off.
What is an email sign-off?
An email sign-off (email ending / email closing) is a short phrase added at the end of an email, right above your email signature. Using it stems from the simple truth that most people learn in the primary school – every text should have a beginning, middle and ending. The closing phrase shows where the email’s body ends and is one of the primary elements of netiquette. It is an indicator of good or bad manners and can clearly highlight your expectations. Without this email ending, your message might be seen as unfinished. In short, it’s quite important.
- Keep your sign-off consistent with email body. Writing in a super formal style and ending with “Yo” would be ridiculous. Similarly, an informal, private email ending with “Your sincerely” is simply off.
- Use only one. Sounds ridiculous? Then ask yourself a question if you’ve ever seen an email ending with:
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Thank you in advance.
This combination or even the use of any two items from this list is a clear indicator that the sender is not sure how to end their email.
- When in doubt, imitate. Using the same sign-off as the person who emails you is the safe option. There’s nothing wrong with playing it safe. Unless the sender chooses something really strange as their closing phrase.
- It’s OK to drop a sign-off in a thread. As long as you don’t take three business days to answer each email, not every single reply requires a sign-off. While email wasn’t made for instant messaging, it is often used this way. There is no need to add beginning and ending in quick exchanges. On the contrary, there is nothing really wrong with it.
- Add a personal touch. You probably don’t have time to think about how to make each email unique. That’s why in most cases you might be using plain, boring sign-offs that suit every situation. However, from time to time, you can add a personal touch, for example, by writing “Thank you for (insert the specific reason)” or “Have a nice trip” when you know someone is about to take one.
5 Bad practices (or which sign-offs NOT to use)
It doesn’t matter if you write a formal email to your professor or email your friend some books in an attachment, there are email sign-offs that are generally a bad idea.
- Sent from my iPhone – a truly cringeworthy sign-off. It’s been made fun of; organizations look for ways to automatically get rid of it, but still it persists. When you use it, it’s not clear what you mean by it. It might mean that the recipient might see some fat finger syndrome symptoms, or that the sender prefers this kind of mobile device. In general, for the recipient, it doesn’t make any difference if you are emailing from an iPhone, Android, toaster, or a flying saucer, as long as they get the message.
- “Always look on the bright side of life” – or any other quote, motto, or a joke. If the recipient likes the quote, they might enjoy the first time they see it. Later on, it becomes just an unnecessary and annoying space filler, no matter how great “The Life of Brian” (or any other quote source) was.
- Thank you in advanced – this, together with a lot of other permanently misspelled sign-offs might trigger your recipient. It’s like reading about “updatations”.
- ASAP – if you’re in a hurry, need a lightning-fast response and, in general, a lot depends on a quick reaction, there’s nothing wrong with letting your recipients know about that. But even when the issue’s priority is high, ending an email with a clean ASAP is a bit too much.
- Waiting for a positive response – the phrase itself might be considered OK in the right context. The problem is, it is usually preceded with an offer that can and, in most cases, will be refused. The sign-off itself definitely doesn’t improve chances of an actual positive response.
Universal email sign-offs
The sign-offs below should work in almost any scenario, but for the emails when you should be super formal or when you’re writing to your dear and near ones:
- Best/All best/All the best – one of the most neutral options for ending an email.
- Thank you in advance – it’s a nice option if your email contains a request. Apart from showing good manners, it might be super helpful if your recipient misses the point of you needing something from them.
- Let me know if you need anything else – a bit wordy but still a great way to finish off a conversation in which you provided some assistance.
- Hope it helps/Let me know if it helped – it’s a great option right after you give someone instructions on how to fix something.
- Much appreciated/Thank you for your time – if someone helped you, it is far better to thank them than to end with a generic “Best regards”.
- Thanks – simple but works in almost any situation.
- Have a great weekend/vacation/etc. – you won’t always be able to use it, but this level of personalization proves that you care and listen to others. Just don’t use ”Have a great life”.
- Stay tuned – suitable for both formal and informal emails if you want others to expect follow-ups or some big news.
Formal email sign-offs
Formal email closings are the ones you should use when you contact someone for the first time, don’t know them in person, or you’re not quite sure about what to use. Remember, you don’t necessarily need to use formal options in business emails – again context is everything.
- Regards, Best regards, Kind regards – all those options are pretty much universal for email sign-offs. Formal, but not too formal, you can pretty much use them in any email. Even occasional appearance in informal emails won’t kill anyone.
- Sincerely, Your Sincerely, Sincerely Yours – much higher in the official ranking. In most situations, it might be considered as too official, archaic, or reserved for snail mail.
- Respectfully – the super formal email closing variant.
- Looking forward to hearing from you – that’s a nice way of saying you can’t wait to get a reply.
- Awaiting your response – the colder variant of the sign-off above. You will usually see it in follow-ups.
Informal email endings
Like mentioned before, informal email endings might appear in business correspondence. Usually, there’s nothing wrong with keeping conversation casual, especially if your recipient is not a complete stranger and, preferably, is around your age.
- 😁, ;] – some people 💗 to end their 📧 with an 😊, 😅, 🤗 or other emoji. It’s quite 👍 for informal messages. Just remember that some people simply prefer words. Too many emoticons might make them go (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻
- Cheers – one of the most common informal email endings. It doesn’t get simpler than this.
- Take care – usually reserved for the end of a conversation, when you know that all you meant to discuss on a particular subject has been discussed.
- Warm regards/Warmest/etc. – the raised temperature makes this sign-off less formal than simple “Regards”. Warm seems to make this ending more emotionally charged.
- WDYT? (what do you think?) – for your recipient, it’s a clear indicator that their opinion is expected. Without it, some emails are likely to be read, archived, and forgotten. The abbreviated version is more suitable for colleagues than business contacts.
Private correspondence sign-offs
This section is different from the one on the informal email endings above in that the suggestions below won’t work for business emails.
- Love/Hugs/Lots of love/XOXO – there are a lot more variations; all of these emotionally charged closings are nice when you’re emailing someone very close to you.
- Thx – expressing gratitude and appreciation is a good practice. However, to use this option, you need to know the recipient pretty well.
- Let’s kick some ass! – such references to a… healthy competition might inspire and boost morale. This one, however, might be considered as a bit too informal or straight offensive. Make sure to read the room before you send such a sign-off to anyone.
Professional email sign-offs
Like I’ve already mentioned, it’s not the formal or informal style which makes a sign-off suitable for professional business correspondence. Depending on the context, you can use any sign-off from the Universal, Formal, and Informal groups. That’s why I’ve saved this part for alternative ways to use the ending phrase in your email.
- If you want to schedule a meeting with me, click the Book Now button in my email signature – a modern email signature has evolved from a simple line with your name in it to something much useful. One of the ways in which it can be used is making scheduling meetings easy. Mentioning this fact in your sign-off shows your recipient that the button is not for show but, in fact, the preferred way to contact you.
- You can find more helpful articles on my blog (check the link in my signature) – your email signature can be very useful to your recipients. Pointing it out might be helpful when someone is not expecting that a signature can be a useful email element.
There are lots of different ways in which email signatures might be used. Be careful, though. If you add a complete email signature with marketing banners, social media buttons, customer satisfaction surveys and so on to each email, the actual content of the conversation might become overflowed with signatures. A good way to prevent this is to use different signatures for the first and consecutive messages.
Unique email sign-offs
“Unique email endings” are the phrases that you probably won’t see very often. I’ll list these less popular sign-offs together with the most probable explanation for why they haven’t taken over the world of email.
- V/R (“Very Respectfully”) – although I’ve seen someone trying to use it as “Virtual Regards”. This case is quite strange as it’s a very formal ending, made vastly informal by abbreviating it. Also, the simple fact that most people need an explanation of what it means makes it unlikely to become a go-to email sign-off.
- Best Wishes – while quite natural for informal letters and postcards, coming across this sign-off in an email is not as common. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it rarely fits the context.
- Rgds – the lazy version of Regards. Theoretically, everyone should understand what it means. Unfortunately, recipients might wonder how much time is saved by typing three letters less.
- Your faithfully – an extremely rare sighting in emails. In standard letters, it is the sign-off reserved for formal letters when you don’t know the recipient’s name. There’s nothing wrong with using it in an email if the context is right.
- To infinity and beyond! – OK, I’ve never seen this one in real life, and it would fall under the quotes category, but I’m (unsuccessfully) trying to convince myself that it could work for an occasional informal email.
- MfG (Mit freundlichen Grüßen) – it’s actually a very popular email ending, but not for emails written in English. What I especially like about it is that 90% of emails I’ve received in German have this exact sign-off. Still, I admit it may be a statistical anomaly because I haven’t received that many emails in this language…
- If I don’t make any sense, blame the autocorrect – I find it (and all the other tributes to autocorrect or fat fingers) a better alternative than “Sent from my iPhone”, but still, if you have time to be this verbose, you should also be able to scan the whole email for typos and autocorrect fails.
Sign-offs versus signatures
An email sign-off is not the same as an email signature or a disclaimer. Although they usually come together, they serve different purposes.
- Email sign-offs still count as the middle of an email’s body. Netiquette aside, they make the email content whole. Often, without an email closing, a message looks incomplete, and the recipient might wonder if the email wasn’t prematurely sent.
- Email signatures serve other important purposes, the most important ones being to identify the sender and give some information about them. But they also carry the branding value, make emails compliant with corporate identity, can be used for various marketing activities, include scheduling/meeting links, or collect customer feedback. If you want to create your own professional email signature, you can use our free email signature generator.
- Email disclaimers are the “legal mumbo-jumbo thingies” at the bottom of an email. While their legal effectiveness has been put in doubt on numerous occasions, there are situations in which they are required for business communication. Still, nothing can excuse an exclaimer being a two-page long essay, especially when added to a three-word long email. See some good email disclaimer examples
If you don’t want to worry about the email closing each time you compose your message, you can add one of the neutral examples to your automatic email signature, just above the signature itself.