Whether you have your own business, work for a company, or are searching for a job, email is one of the primary forms of communication we all rely on. Learning how to end an email is just as important as knowing how to start one, as it can have an impact on the type of response you receive or if you receive one at all.
If you’re looking to write clear, professional emails, learning how to use appropriate and effective sign-offs is key. Make sure to also read our guide to starting your email.
How quickly your recipient responds– or if they respond at all– can be greatly influenced by your email closing. This is the last thing they read, and it can motivate them to respond right away or put it on the back burner.
When writing emails to other people, it can be useful to think about how you would communicate with someone if they were standing in front of you. You would never walk away from a new business contact without closing out somehow, and the same should be true of your email correspondences.
In your closing, you’ll want to include a clear call to action and use a polite, friendly, and professional tone. You’ll find that ending your emails this way grants you a better chance or receiving a positive response.
When you’re drafting the end to your emails, there are a number of best practices you’ll want to keep in mind.
It’s best to start with the assumption that your communications should be professional unless you’re engaging in communication with someone you have a more casual relationship with. You can use context clues to decide what tone would be appropriate for your sign-off. For emails to people you haven’t met before, stick to a more professional tone and avoid casual sign-offs.
However, if you’re writing an email as a part of an existing chain, you can use the context to determine if something more casual is appropriate. There’s nothing wrong with mirroring the tone of your audience, but erring on the side of being professional is best when you aren’t quite sure what is best.
You always want to write both your first and last name when signing an email, particularly in the first couple of messages. This ensures that the person you are writing to knows exactly who you are and won’t confuse you with another contact that shares your first name.
Writing an email closing communicates professionalism and attention to detail. On top of that, it’s possible that your message will get forwarded to other people who won’t see previous communications, and including your full name helps make sure everyone is on the same page.
On the other hand, it can seem reasonable to skip the closing when you have already exchanged several emails with someone. It might be perfectly fine to skip the closing in some messages, but you’ll want to be thoughtful when doing so.
The last line of your email before your sign-off should both communicate to the recipient that you're grateful they read your message as well as include a call-to-action of some kind. This could mean that include a line that says "I look forward to hearing from you soon!" if you are hoping to elicit a response to your message. When sending marketing emails, a call-to-action can suggest that the reader take action separate from responding to the message.
It’s easy to get all wrapped up trying to come up with the best email sign-off, but sometimes it is honestly best to stick with a classic. There are a number of simple email closings that can get the job done while getting across your desired tone.
How should you close out your email if you’re writing a formal business message? Here are some standard choices that pretty much never fail:
The business world has changed a lot in the last several decades, and workplaces have gotten a lot more casual due to advancements in technology, changes in the American economy, and other realities of our changing world.
When you’re emailing someone you have a more casual business relationship with, the following closings are appropriate:
When you’re sending an email that is making a request or expressing gratitude, you might choose to use one of the following sign-offs:
Email closings have a number of different elements you’ll want to be mindful of when drafting your messages. Here are the common pieces of email closings.
The final line of your email should typically include both a call-to-action and a message of gratitude. The former will help communicate that you anticipate a response and can help motivate them to respond. The latter shows that you are grateful that the recipient took the time to read your email.
You don’t necessarily need to use your full name if you’re emailing your work colleague of ten years, but it’s best to do so if you aren’t sure what is appropriate. This can help make sure that the recipient remembers you and avoids confusion.
This isn’t absolutely necessary, but including your job title can help the recipient understand what you do.
Including alternate methods of communication at the end of your email can be useful. Of course, they already have your email address, but you might find you also want to share your direct phone number, office address, or other contact information.
Of course, who you are writing to, what you are writing about, and the relationship you have with the person can have a big impact on determining an appropriate email sign-off. Here are a few different types of relationships and example sign-offs to give you a sense of the possibilities in different contexts.
When ending a professional email, you might choose to stray away from getting too creative and instead stick with classic options including:
You'll want to let the content of your email help dictate what sign-off is most appropriate in a business setting. For example, if you're writing an email to your potential employer about your schedule availability, "Let me know if you have any questions" could be a good choice. If you're inquiring about an open position, on the other hand, you might choose "Thank you for the opportunity" or a simple "sincerely."
If you're writing to a professor, you might choose to stick with the advice given for a professional email. Depending on how well you know your teacher or the general tone they carry with the class, you might opt for something a little less formal.
This guide helps outline the conventions of professional email that are expected when emailing faculty, administrators, or anyone in a business context.
Taking an English lit class and want to impress your professor? Learn how to write like Ernest Hemingway here.
When emailing a friend or family member, it can seem a bit much to end with "Sincerely" or "Regards." You can use the nature of your relationship to help determine what is appropriate here, and a good way of deciding the right choice is to think about what you might say to the recipient in person if you were saying goodbye.
Some examples include:
When it comes to ending friendly emails with friends or family, you have a lot more leeway to be creative. Consider the general tone of the relationship you have with the person when drafting the end to your email.
Sending a message to a friend via snail-mail? Check out this post about how to write a postcard.
When it comes to professional emails, there are some sign-offs you should generally avoid. This is particularly true if you're emailing with someone you don't have an established relationship with. If you do already have a working relationship with someone, you can use the context of your previous messages to help determine what is and isn't appropriate.
Here are some sign-offs you should avoid:
There seems to be a lot of disagreement about whether "cheers" is appropriate in professional settings or not. If you aren't sure whether this would be a good choice, it's best to err on the side of a more professional option. In some companies, though, "cheers" might be a standard and acceptable sign-off that communicates friendliness and positivity without being overly intimate.
Depending on the purpose of your email, it can feel completely paralyzing when you reach the end of your message and are unsure of how to sign off. If you're unsure of how to proceed, step back and consider the audience you are writing to, the relationship you have with them (if any,) the purpose for writing, and your desired result. This can help you determine what is most appropriate given the context.
The question of how to end emails is a fascinating one-- in a shifting business environment, communication seems to be getting more and more casual. You might find that an informal sign-off is much more effective when sending marketing emails but much less effective when you're cold-emailing potential clients. At the end of the day, you might find that experimenting with your email endings can help you find what works best for you.
This article is part of our series on how to write better. Make sure to check out the other articles in the series.