A 2016 poll by Huffington Post found six common email greetings or “sign-offs.” In order of popularity, they are:
- Just a name or initials (e.g. — “Your name”)
Needless to say, “Love” is not appropriate for formal emails. But what about the other options?
Today, we’ll go over some common sign-offs to help you write in English like a business professional!
“Regards” is a noun that basically means, “Best wishes.” It’s a standard sign-off in emails today. Forbes calls it “fine,” and The Entrepreneur says it’s “a little short and a little distant,” but “generally works well.”
If you don’t want to sound so distant or cold, you can use “Regards” with some adjectives. Here are the most common ones:
- “Kind regards”
- “Warm regards”
- “Best regards”
Since we’ve mentioned “Best regards,” we should bring up “Best.” While it’s not on the Huffington Post list, it’s one of the most common sign-offs according to both Business Insider and Forbes.
“Best” is like a less formal version of “Best regards.” To be safe, you can use “Best” with people you know and “Best regards” with people you want to be polite with.
“Thanks” has become standard and you’ll see people using it even when the recipient has not done anything yet. However, experts disagree on whether it’s actually appropriate as a sign-off.
One thing we know for sure is that expressions like "Thanks" or "Cheers" (British English) sound casual, so it's best to use them with people you already know.
If you’re worried about sounding too casual, you can put any words of appreciation (like “Thanks” or “Thanks in advance”) in the body of the email. Then sign off with another greeting like “Best” or “Regards.”
This one is also one of the most commonly used in emails according to the Huffington Post poll. However, experts also disagree on how appropriate it is for emails.
- Forbes says “Maybe OK for some formal business correspondence.”
- The Entrepreneur says “you'll never offend anyone” with this option, but it’s “a bit too formal for e-mail.”
- An expert interviewed in Business Insider recommends it for cover letters, but not for emails.
So “Sincerely” is safe to use (especially if you start your email with “Dear” as one expert points out), but it can seem a bit stiff, depending on who you’re writing to. There’s also no need to get even more formal with “Sincerely yours.”
While we’re on this topic, we should point out that “Faithfully yours” or “Yours faithfully” is very rarely used these days. A British member of our team said, “Every now and then, I'll come across ‘yours faithfully’ in a very formal message, but it's certainly not as common anymore.”
5. Name, Initials, or Nothing At All
The experts interviewed in Business Insider and Forbes don’t recommend signing off with just your name, initials, or nothing at all, because this can seem cold.
However, Bloomberg Businessweek disagrees:
“With the rise of Slack and other office chatting software, e-mail has begun functioning more like instant messaging anyway …. Signoffs interrupt the flow of a conversation ... and that’s what e-mail is.”
Our take? It depends on the email. Obviously, we don’t recommend doing this in a formal email to someone you’ve never met. However, if you’re having a conversation with someone over email, just ending with your name, initials, or nothing at all is fine.
We hope the advice above helps you understand what different sign-offs mean and how you should use them.
If you need more help deciding, remember this piece of writing advice: “keep the reader in mind.” In other words, think about who will receive your email. For example:
- In certain countries and industries, communication is more formal, so you’ll want to sign off with “Sincerely,” “Best regards,” or even more formal options like “Respectfully.”
- If you’re close with a recipient, you can use less formal sign-offs like “Best,” “Thanks,” or even more casual options like “Enthusiastically” or “Great working with you.”
Finally, we know that as a learner, writing business emails can be scary. After all, how can a learner judge if something is “formal enough”?
So, if you ever need a second opinion, reach out to our tutors. They’re here for you 24/7 and many even have business experience. Plus, your first session is on us, so you’ve got nothing to lose!