26 May The Definitive Guide to E-mail Sign-Offs
One of the greatest/worst things about writing is that you can never truly master it. You can get better and better. You can refine and adapt your own unique voice. You can learn new things about the world and express your discoveries through the written word.
As a screenwriter, I’m much better than I used to be.
As an essay tutor, I’m much better than I used to be.
As a blogger, I’m much better than I used to be.
But all is not rosy in Nived-land…
As an email signer-off-erer, I have stagnated for years. Yes, there has been virtually no progress made in this small, but highly visible part of my writing profile.
Before we get into why and what my plan to fix this, let’s speak more generally.
What do I mean by an email sign-off?
I mean the bit that goes before my name at the end of an email.
Right now, this is how I sign off emails (and oftentimes, Facebook messages and other communiques):
What a snooze-fest, am-i-rite?
Believe me, this oasis of unoriginality in my otherwise independent-minded way of doing things doesn’t feel right. But I’ve never been satisfied with any alternative.
But enough is enough. It’s time to make a change!
In order to do so, I need to thoroughly investigate my options. Which I have done, and here are my finding. Ladies and gentlemen, THE DEFINITE GUIDE THE EMAIL SIGN-OFFS!
One of the most popular email sign-offs is no sign-off at all. You go straight from the body of the email to:
or, even more whimsically,
While this works perfectly well for quick exchanges or people you know well, it can come across as cold in many instances. Kind of like hanging up on somebody. You finish your sentence. BAM, dial tone. Kind of jarring. Definitely a no-go as a go-to. Or a no-go-to.
2. Thanks/Thank you/Thank you very much/Thanks!/Thanks!!!/Thanx/Many Thanks
What annoys me about this ol’ standby of mine is how it devalues the gesture of expressing gratitude. Being thankful to someone for positively impacting your life is one of the most powerful of human expressions. To reduce it to a place-holder because you can’t think of any better way to finish your email is just kind of sad.
But I send emails like this all the time:
Hi <person’s name>,
The bees arrived.
Unless that person sent me those bees, there’s no reason for thanks them. Yet there I am, thanking away.
By the way, I’ve never sent an email like that in my life. And I’ve never had bees delivered. I don’t even know if it’s possible to have bees delivered.
Anyway, because Thanks is already a weak expression of gratitude, it also dilutes emails with a strong expression of gratitude. If I legitimately offer up thanks in the body of the email, why would I bother with the Thanks, Nived. Yet I do.
3. Best/All the Best/My Very Best
This Forbes article recommends the Best sign-off and indeed it’s very common, but I fail to see the appeal. Sure, it’s short, and it conveys a vague sense of positivity. But it also smacks of laziness. Let’s see how it looks:
No, it’s all wrong. Maybe Best works for you, but it’s Worst for me. Simply too vague, too… too… unimaginative. Best what?! Best in show? Best Buy? Who shops at Best Buy anymore?
4. Best Regards/Regards/With Regards/Best Wishes/Warm Regards/Warmly
Oh okay. Best is short for Best Regards. Still hate it. And I hate all of these options, that convey thoughtfulness in the most awkward way possible. Can you actually imagine saying the phrase Best Regards or Regards to someone in real life? I can’t. Maybe if I traveled through time and found myself in Victorian London, maaybe… there were probably way cooler ways to sign-off back then. But wait, there was no email back then, what am I saying?
And don’t get me started on anything using anything with Warm or Warmly. What am I, running a fever? Making muffins? Sorry, no.
Best Wishes is a little better. Reminds me too much of birthdays though. Will have to decline.
I’ve only really seen friends of mine from England or Australia use this. I kind of envy them in this regard because it is a pretty great sign-off. It’s fun, positive and succinct. Only problem is I’m not from England or Australia.
I think if you’re not from a place where it’s commonly used, you’re either going to come off as a poser or a drunkard.
Same logic applies for Ciao and Suerte.
Ah, ubiquitous in business letter sign-offs, Sincerely certainly has its place in business-y emails as well. If I’m sending out a cover letter in email form, chances are, I’ll throw this on there. Am I thrilled about it? No. But instead of cutting out stuffy sign-offs to business communications out of my life, I’d rather try to cut out stuffy business communications.
7. XOXO/Hugs and kisses/Kisses/Hugs
This kind of sign-off might be okay for someone who is overtly affectionate, like a teenage girl or a cuddly animal. As far as I know, I’m neither of those things.
Not crazy about this sign-off. Is it a promise? Is it a threat? Whatever it is, it sounds like a commitment. A commitment I’m not ready to make to whomever I happen to be emailing. Is Never an option? No? Sometimes? Often? If it can only be Always, I’m going to have to pass.
For friends and family that you, y’know, love, this is a good way to remind them of how you feel about them. When messaging everybody else, claiming to love them falls into the same category as Thanks. To use it as an email sign-off is to cheapen it. The exception being if you’re the Dalai Lama or someone with that degree of benevolence. I think His Holiness legitimately loves every single person on the planet.
10. Yours/Yours Truly
These seem to be hold-overs from letter writing as well. I can’t imagine myself uttering the term Yours Truly in real life. Not without adopting a fake British accent, at least.
11. Take Care/Be Well
Maybe it’s a subconscious superstition I harbor, but wishing someone good health feels like counterbalancing someone else wishing them bad health. It’s like inadvertently stirring up a war between good and evil. Why even open this Pandora’s Box? Maybe it’s just me though…
Okay, fondly sounds way too similar to fondling. And fondling never ever ever has a positive connotation. If someone accuses you of fondling, hire an attorney immediately. I realize fondly is a totally different word with a totally different meaning, but in this overly litigious society, one can never be too careful.
13. Peace/Peace Out/Peace in the Middle East
Sadly, declarations of peace are outdated. The good news is declarations of war are even more outdated. Read any history book, and you’ll realize how frequently nations declared war on each other. If they had email back then, half of all exchanges would have looked something like.
We’re invading you.
Soo 13th century. Get with the times. Drop the warring—and the peacing,too.
14. In Him/In Christ/God bless/Heaven is Real
One of the advantages of being religious is that you have access to a selection of spiritually themed sign-offs that relate to your particular faith. For the many out there that are not so fervent in such matters, you’ll have to stick to secular options. Is access to eternal life and/or sign-offs worth converting for? That’s your decision to make!
13. Talk soon/Talk to you soon
I kind of like Talk to you soon. In fact, I use it to sign off emails to my subscriber list. However, as an all-purpose sign-off, it’s problematic. Why? It comes off as slightly needy.
In a Jerry Seinfeld voice: Why do you get to decide if we’re going to talk soon? What if I don’t want to talk soon?
The other problem is that there’s many emails someone sends out in which neither they nor the person they’re emailing has any attention to talk soon. Example:
You’re an incompetent worker. You’re totally fired. Clean out your desk and leave.
Talk to you soon,
Mixed signals much?
I cordially, respectfully, faithfully decline all of these.
15. Have a good one
I kind of like this. And I’ve been known to say it on occasion in real life. But there’s “one” problem with this as an email sign-off. Literally, the problem is the one. One what? In real life, people let the ambiguity of Have a good one slide, as it breaks up the monotony of Have a nice day. But in digital form, there it is, an enigmatic, perplexing one. It’s liable to drive some of your correspondents mad.
ONE WHAT?! Day? Night? Life? Milkshake? ONE WHAT?!?!
<Enter orderlies with a straitjacket.>
16. Nice work/Good job/Nice job/Good work
Since I am a professional essay tutor, there are contexts where this is suitable. Say a client sends me a draft. I read it, like it and tell them as much. At the end of this email, yes, a Nice work or Good job would work. But I come back to the Thanks issue. It kind of cheapens the praise. Presumably, the body of my email has already conveyed my sentiments in a more articulate way.
It’s also weird that positive sentiments are accepted, but I couldn’t sign off these type of emails with:
Perhaps this space is not the spot for subjective assessments.
The other problem is these options are ever-so-slightly condescending. You can imagine a schoolteacher patting one of his/her students and saying Good work, Billy. Then, you can imagine the rest of the students being annoyed because Billy is such a freaking kiss-up. God, I hate Billy.
17. <Personal quote>
Now, this is interesting. Some people chose to sign off with a personal mantra, life philosophy or other such maxim.
Usually, this is something they coined, but sometimes, it’s from a celebrated individual. First, let’s talk about that last bit. If you’re going to align yourself with something somebody said once, stick to dead people.
Live people, even well-respected once, can always let you down with something truly embarrassing. Then, when you stop quoting them right away, it comes off as a knee-jerk reaction. If there’s a live person’s quote you really, really like, I’m sorry, you’re just going to hold off—perhaps even not emailing anyone at all—until they kick off. Don’t—I repeat—don’t murder them simply to make it okay to quote them.
In general, however, I find the idea of quoting someone else, even if they’re dead, as your go-to sign-off a bit… unoriginal?
Which brings us to supplying your own quote. Great, if you have a good one. But if you have an unsavory one, you’re better off hiding it from the world in shame.
For example, this is my personal mantra:
I hate babies, puppies, ice cream, chocolate, pizza and love.
Not a good email sign-off, sadly.
This is perfect!
…if you’re a member of an alien species making contact with earthlings for the first time.
19. Shine on you crazy diamond
You might be surprised to learn that, after my exhaustive research, this turns out to be the second best email sign-off in existence. In fact, I might integrate it in my own emails here and there. What makes it so special?
First, it’s funny. Second, it’s fun. Third, it references a song series by Pink Floyd.
Now, I don’t like Pink Floyd all that much. And I don’t know what a song series is. But I’m drawn to how random this whole thing is. People will remember it, and it will make them smile. By spreading happiness, you’re doing your part to make sure they do, indeed, continue to shine on like the crazy diamonds they are.
This is thoroughly anticlimactic, I recognize. But in the end, the answer was there all along. From now on, I will sign-off each email in a way that’s relevant and organic to the rest of the email. In fact, I’ve already sent out emails that end in these ways:
Let me know what you think
Hope that helps
Good to hear from you
Thanks for reaching out
I’ve attached the file
Thanks <gasp! yes, it’s true, I still use Thanks sometimes, but feel better about it now>
Whatever works best for you
Shine on you crazy diamond <when emailing someone I consider a crazy diamond>
I’ll follow up next week
What I’ve quickly realized is I’m assembling an arsenal of email sign-offs.
I feel like those dolls where you pull the string and they say one of the few personalized quotes they’ve been programmed with. The fact that it changes based on context shows I’ve put thought into it. My recipients will appreciate that more than a rote Thanks or Best or everything else on this list basically. But since I’m cultivating what will only be a small collection, I don’t really have to spend a lot of time making every sign-off uber-customized.
I simply pull my string. Something good will come of my mouth.
It’s perfect. It’s also probably unsatisfying from your point-of-view after having read this whole article. Well, all I can say is…
Sorry to disappoint,
P.S. Just kidding, I’m totally not sorry. In fact, I revel in your dissatisfaction.