With sincerest gratitude: how to sign off your emails

Posted on 21 March 2014 by Emily Stella

 

You’re starving and need to send an email before you break for lunch.

But there’s a stumbling block between you and your Pret Classic Super Club sandwich (with vegetable crisps…and maybe a chocolate brownie bar, if you’re feeling indulgent). That barrier is how to close your email.

So what should it be? Maybe not ‘With sincerest gratitude’, but what about ‘Kind regards’? Or is it ‘Warm regards’? Or just ‘Regards’?

You might think an email sign-off is a waste of time altogether. Many people choose to leave it out and just sign their name. And I can see why this appeals when it’s so easy to deliberate endlessly over the options.

If you do include an email sign-off, here’s my guide to navigate you through the maze. Remember to consider your reader and the context of your email when choosing your words.
 
 
Kind regards
A little generic but a safe bet in most instances. Contrary to the image above, never write ‘Kind Regards’ with a capital R. This goes for all two-word sign-offs: ‘Warm regards’, ‘Best wishes’ etc. And certainly never write ‘Kind regardz’!
 
Regards
Shows little emotion; can be perceived as terse.
 
Best wishes
You have a close business relationship with the reader and want to retain good contact.
 
Many thanks / Thanks
Don’t use unless you actually want to thank your reader for something. Otherwise it’s nonsense.
 
Cheers
More informal than ‘Thanks’ and should only be used to colleagues you know well, never to seniors or clients.
 
Take care
Definitely not appropriate in a work context. It’s far too informal. If used at all, it must be restricted to colleagues who are also friends.
 
KR / BW
If you hadn’t guessed, these are abbreviations of ‘Kind regards’ and ‘Best wishes’. Indicates laziness or, worse, suggests the recipient is not worthy of your time.
 
xoxo (kisses)
Once upon a time, I would have said this is never appropriate in a business context. But then I spoke to people in marketing and PR. In these industries kisses are not only accepted, they’re expected. If you do sign off with kisses, you must be absolutely certain they are appropriate. If in any doubt, hold back.
 
 

Email greetings

While we’re at it, let’s quickly touch on how we greet a recipient.
 
Dear’, although formal, is appropriate for first time contact.
 
I see no harm in calling your recipient by their first name, even if you don’t know them: ‘Dear John’. However, beware that this etiquette changes as you cross borders, so do your homework when emailing international colleagues and clients.

Hi’ is OK if you’ve had contact with the reader previously or know them well.

Hey’, in my opinion, is taking that chumminess one step too far in a work context.

 
Don’t overthink email sign-offs. Just use your judgement and remember you’re unlikely to offend anyone by being too formal. But if you decide not to use one at all, that’s also fine. Happy emailing.