While email is without a doubt one of the most useful communication tools out there, it can be challenging to master. Sure, you probably write many a day, but because emails lack face-to-face communication, it’s easy for these messages to be read the wrong way, literally. One of the most troublesome areas people have is with the sign-off. Have you ever struggled with choosing the right words and deciding which is the most appropriate way to end your message?
When it comes to signing off in an email, you could use the same words over and over again but, it may not be correct for certain situations. A client who has made a complaint in an email, for example, may not appreciate an informal ‘Cheers’. This will likely come across as highly unprofessional.
So, what makes a good sign-off?
If you pause to think about it for a minute, you probably use only a few sign-offs again and again. While there is no major problem with this, you might be sending out the wrong message. The key to a good sign-off actually depends on a number of things:
- The reason for emailing - why are you replying, or emailing the recipient? For example, if you are sending a rejection letter, the sign off might be different than that of an acceptance letter.
- The tone - The sign-off denotes the tone of an email and can make the recipient view the whole content in a certain way. For example, ‘Cheers’ is perfectly ok in a personal email with good news but not when emailing a stranger on a business level.
- The salutation/greeting - In business writing, there is a generally accepted rule that the greeting used dictates the sign-off you would use. So a formal start demands a formal finish.
To make things a little easier, here are six of the most popular sign-offs and when they should be used, and where possible the greeting they should be used with.
- Cheers - This is usually used to end friendly emails, usually among friends or colleagues. Most people will use this when they start an email with a friendly greeting like ‘Hey’. You can generally use this with people you know, but it be used with people/customers you don’t know well or where the email content is serious, or requires some gravitas.
- Best - This is short for ‘Best Regards’, and can be used in a wide variety of situations. For the most part, it conveys a sense of friendliness and professionalism and is best used when you are replying/emailing people you know, but not necessarily that well. This is best used when you have started an email with ‘Hello’, or a neutral greeting.
- Regards - This is probably the most divisive sign-off used. Some argue that it conveys a strictly professional manner and is ideal for professional sounding emails, while others argue that this has a slightly cold edge. You are probably better off avoiding using just ‘Regards’, and opting for the slightly more formal, yet friendlier, ‘Best Regards’. You can also use this friendly sign-off if you are emailing someone who you don’t know.
- Sincerely - This is among the most commonly used sign-off by professionals. It is deliberate, concise and best for people who know what they are doing. If you are writing a formal email, or to a recipient you have not met yet, it is probably best to use this sign-off. Originally, in the days of actual letter writing, business English denotes that ‘Sincerely/Yours Sincerely” should be used when starting a letter with ‘Mr/Mrs’, whilst ‘Faithfully/Yours Faithfully” is used when correspondence starts with ‘Dear Sir’.
- No sign-off - A growing number of professionals include no sign off at all. They just simply end an email, although some may include their name. This is perfectly acceptable, as long as you know the person you are sending the email to and if this is a non-sales/marketing related email. Often if you are sending a volley of emails back and forth, there is no need for a beginning or ending but simply write the body of the email. A good rule of thumb is to follow someone’s lead.
- Thanks - This sign-off is probably one of the most popular and used by nearly everyone. It conveys a friendly and polite tone without being too formal. This can be used with nearly every greeting and is especially great for emails where you are asking the recipient to do something.
What message does the way you use technology convey to other people? Do you need to make the most of email communication? Get in touch and we’re sure to get back to you with just the right message.