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10 best ways to sign off an email and 10 sign-offs to avoid - and why

There are good ways and bad ways to sign-off from your emails. Here's everything you need to know to avoid a digital etiquette misstep

The average person receives around 120 emails each day, and that amount will add up over the years. Nevertheless, many of us will sometimes fall short on email etiquette, no matter how many hours we dedicate to crafting and sending these electronic messages. You might be wondering what the best way to sign off an email is, and this can be a tricky question to answer. Modern life is becoming increasingly hard to navigate in the digital world, with your goal of an email sign-off tending to instigate the reader to send a fast response, without the writer coming off as too formal.

The problem is that when it comes to what makes a good email sign-off, different people will have various ideas on this topic. One person’s favourite email sign-off, for example, could be unsettling for a number of recipients.

There’s no need to worry, however. In this article we’ll go over 10 email sign-offs that you can add to your writing arsenal which are sure to award you with the response you seek. Additionally, we’ll also go through the 10 email sign-offs that might be a good idea to avoid.

The 10 best ways to sign-off an email

As ever

This is known among the etiquette experts as a classic sign-off, largely acquiring its legendary status thanks partly to a Sadie Stein essay in The Paris Review. In the essay, she describes how she received a message from her university professor and felt enchanted by “as ever”. "Immediately, it seemed to me that rare thing, an all-purpose valediction: versatile, graceful, elliptical," she explained. "If I was writing to a loved one, the sign-off implied my affection was going strong. If I hated someone, well, it didn’t rule that out, either. It could be cool or warm, friendly or formal. Or it could be literal: I was still Sadie Stein, and there was very little arguing with that."

Thank you and thanks

46% of email writers replying to a PerkBox survey of 2,000 people said that a simple “thank you” was a good way to sign-off an email. A basic “thank you” or “thanks” could be a great way to make your digital exit, although it is preferable if you have something in particular to thank the person you’re writing to for.

It’s been known for a while that being thankful could help boost your response rate too. All the way back in 2017 a study from Boomerang, of over 350,000 email threads discovered that “thank you,” “thanks in advance,” and “thanks” all received response rates of around 65%. On the other hand, 46% of emails that lacked these kinds of sign-offs also got a response. It’s worth bearing in mind that some etiquette experts warn against using “thanks in advance” though, which we’ve noted further below.

Best wishes and all the best

Sign-offs like “all the best,” “best,” or “best wishes,” are preferred by Victoria Turk, the author of Digital Etiquette. Despite this, “best” and “best regards” didn’t garner as many responses in the Boomerang study compared to emails ending with “thanks”, although it’s worth pointing out they experienced an 11% and 7% rise when compared to the average of all emails sent.

Kind regards

The etiquette experts consider this to be one of the top sign-offs, just like “best”. Not only formal and polite, it’s also considered to be warm. In the PerkBox survey it also appeared to be extremely popular, approved by 69% of those who took part. If you’re looking for a safe and secure option for an email sign-off, then “Kind regards” is the one for you.

Learn mimicry

If you're replying to an email, an easy way to know how to reply is mimicking the sender's style — if they thought "best regards" worked for them, they won't be offended to hear it in return. It's a safe way to avoid any offence or confusion, but don't use it if the sender has a unique sign-off, as it may seem mocking. 

Be consistent

Starting with a formal sign-off and switching to a more casual one is perfectly fine, but be wary of suddenly lurching back to "sincerely" or another colder exit, according to William Schwalbe, author of Send: Why People Email So Badly and How To Do It Better. “Change is important," he told Huffington Post. "If you’ve been ‘best,’ ‘best,’ ‘best’ back and forth, and all of a sudden I sent you a ‘sincerely,’ actually that means you’ve probably done something that irritates me, and I want to establish that we are not actually close."

Use context

Keep in mind the wider context, too. Tina Hayes, of the School of Etiquette and Decorum, shared sign-off ideas from colleagues at the American Association of Etiquette Professionals with the San Francisco Chronicle, revealing a nod to the strange times we currently live in could be welcome. "Take care and be safe," suggested one, while another said "stay sane and healthy".

Be yourself

The perfect sign-off depends on the style of your business. A professional sign-off is necessary for most of us in office situations, but your sign-off could help solidify your brand, according to business etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore. "A friend of mine writes vegan books, and she signs her emails 'love and blessings'," Whitmore says in a blog post. "And that’s who she is." Most of us can't get away with that much character at work, but if it works for your role or business, go for it.

The 10 worst ways to sign off an email

Don't be too formal

Emails aren't letters, and this isn't the 1800s. "Yours sincerely" is widely seen as too formal. If you feel like you sound like a Jane Austen character, delete and start over.  The PerkBox survey ranked these three formal endings — "yours truly," "yours faithfully", and "sincerely"— among the worst email sign-off options.

This isn't the pub, don't say cheers

If you know the person you're sending the email to, you can tweak your sign-off to reflect that relationship. But if you don't know them at all or well, avoid being too casual, warns Turk, telling Ted.Com that "cheers" is an email exit to use with friends or close coworkers, but no-one else. Plus, "cheers" is generally limited to British or Australian speech, meaning others won't be accustomed to its use as a greeting.

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Don't get emotional

You may conclude an email with your mother by signing off with "love" or "xoxo", but it's no surprise that the PerkBox survey found most respondents thought that was the worst way to sign off an email. If you don't love the person, don't say you do. The next worst-rated sign-off was "warmly," so avoid expressing your emotions using that term, too.

Abbreviations

It doesn't take more effort to write "thanks" than it does to type "thx" these days, even if you're on a phone. If you can't be bothered to write those few extra letters, why should anyone take the time to read the rest of what's in your email?

Don't pre-empt

The worst sign off, according to Turk, is to finish with "thanks in advance", as it's "incredibly presumptive", she tells Ted.com. "You can’t thank someone for doing something before they’ve agreed to do it," she says.

Don't be passive aggressive

Like "thanks in advance", sign-offs such as "looking forward to hearing from you" can come across as an implied demand for action. As the grammar experts at Grammarly note in a blog post, it comes off as passive aggressive – but can also put you in the waiting position, unable to act until you've heard from them. "The problem with 'I look forward to hearing from you' is that it removes you from the active role and puts you in a subservient one," the post reads. "Now, you’re just waiting passively for a response rather than moving the email thread forward, and your recipient may not even know what you want from them."

Drop the GIFs and pics

You may think a funny GIF will help your email stand out, but humor is subjective and antivirus isn't — images can trip up security software. Plus, it just means your email will take longer to load, especially if someone is on a mobile device.

Say something

The PerkBox survey showed that 44% of people thought the worst sign-off was none at all. That may work for a colleague you exchange dozens of messages with each day, but if you don't know the recipient very well, it's best to make a polite exit rather than none at all. If the best you can do is "best", that's better than nothing at all.

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