Just read Ruth McCann's article in today's Washington Post, 'Best' for Last? Or Should You Sign That E-Mail With Sincerely? Regards? Cheers? or L-, L-, Love?, in which she considers the best way to close an e-mail. Here are some of the e-mail closing options that McCann and her interviewees —Arianna Huffington; Matthew Cox, senior staff writer for Army Times; Norah O'Donnell, MSNBC's chief D.C. correspondent—have considered and rejected:
- Regards - emotionally detached
- Cordially - thinly veiled hostility
- Cheers - too mock Brit
- Sincerely - too old-school, too letter-like
- XOXOX - too adolescent
I think the article missed one important point: how you close your e-mail needs to match what you said in your e-mail. Best wishes would be an odd way to close an e-mail about a 25% budget cut. Thank you is the wrong way to close an e-mail in which you let your staff know you'll be out for a month recuperating from back surgery. The closing should continue the "line" of your e-mail and add a little flourish of feeling to wrap everything up. You should not omit the closing entirely unless you're e-mailing someone you know very well and your exchange will be brief.
Four Professional Ways to Close an E-Mail:
- Looking forward to ... I like this closing because it helps me reiterate the point of my e-mail. If I've just e-mailed to invite someone to attend a course, I might close with Looking forward to seeing you at the September 22 web writing course. If I am e-mailing to request information, I might close with Looking forward to receiving your price list.
- Thank you for ... I really like this closing when my e-mail is a request. If I've asked someone to propose dates for a meeting, I'll close with Thank you for letting me know when you're available. Even if the reader hasn't completed the requested action yet, the Thank you closing puts us all on the right track.
- Please contact me if you ... Many people use this closing in a generic form—Please contact me if you have any questions—but if I use it, I make it very specific: Please contact me to discuss training plans for next year or Please contact me so we can review the draft you sent.
- Sincerely, All the best, Regards ... Any one of these closings is fine. Don't obsess about which closing to use. The most important thing to remember is that the e-mail closing offers you the opportunity to remind your readers about the purpose of the e-mail and leave them with a good feeling about you and your e-mail topic.
What's your opinion? Which e-mail closing do you use? Why? Leave a comment and let us know how you say goodbye.
Want to learn more about writing excellent e-mail? Enroll in our course How to Write E-Mail to People Who Don't Read on January 13, 2010 in Washington, DC.