Email etiquette – how best to sign off

By on November 26th, 2014 in Clear writing, Tone
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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!

3 responses to “Email etiquette – how best to sign off”

  1. johanaberg2015 says:

    Nice article! I tend to be fairly formal in my greetings with new contacts and then gradually relax the greeting phrases as the email thread progresses. By the way, here’s another resource on email etiquette that may prove helpful:

  2. K says:

    Cheers is fine! As you say it’s almost ubiquitous and I think you would be one of the few for whom the term has connotations of German beer halls.

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