Email etiquette – how best to sign off

Melissa Wardell | November 26, 2014

As a means of correspondence, emails have revolutionised the way we communicate with one another. And although emails can be used in formal circumstances, it seems they’re generally accepted as a more informal means of exchange.

What fascinates me about emails is that the way we sign off from them can have a dramatic impact on the message itself. It can completely alter how the content of the message is perceived. And there appear to be no steadfast rules about sign off – decisions often come down to personal choice.

When is casual OK?

Most of us probably wouldn’t end a conversation at an important business meeting with ‘All good, dude’. In terms of email etiquette, I believe it’s important to think hard about who we’re writing to before we sign off.

I have to admit I have a hard time accepting the word ‘Cheers’ as a sign off. I can accept this word is almost ubiquitous, and I’ve read it in emails from people I both like and respect. But I just can’t escape the image of someone raising a large stein, cold beer spilling down its sides, in a beer hall in Germany. Plenty of people visit beer halls, but it’s not the environment in which I’d imagine holding a business meeting.

I believe the most important point to consider when deciding how to sign off an email is familiarity. ‘Cheers’ might be OK if I’m signing off to a colleague. But if I’m writing a business email to someone I’ve never met, I’d been inclined to sign off with ‘Kind regards’.

Options aplenty

Susan Adams, from Forbes Magazine, recently released a long list of potential email sign offs. She consulted colleagues, friends and people she considered ‘experts’, to find out what they thought was acceptable.

The result is a list of 89 Ways To Sign Off On An Email. Plenty of food for thought!

Insights, tips, and professional development opportunities.