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When I send an email requesting assistance from someone, I am tempted to close the email with the phrase “Much Appreciated”. Is it acceptable to use that phrase outside of a sentence?

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Rather depends on the tone of the email. If you can imagine saying everything in the email face-to-face and "Much appreciated" doesn't sound out of place in that conversation (monologue), then it's probably fine. If it doesn't really fit, it doesn't really fit. –  Andrew Leach Oct 22 '12 at 16:02
    
William Strunk wrote, "'Thanking you in advance' sounds as if the writer meant, 'It will not be worth my while to write to you again.' Simply write, 'Thanking you,' and if the favor which you have requested is granted, write a letter of acknowledgment." :) –  William C Oct 22 '12 at 19:54
    
@AndrewLeach Answer much appreciated! –  bib Oct 22 '12 at 23:06
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3 Answers

Depending on how you're requesting this assistance, wouldn't "Thanks in advance" fit better?

That's how I tend to end my 'official' mail requests, at least. Alternatively something along the lines of "Any and all help is much appreciated".

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Thanks in advance assumes not that you're requesting assistance but that you're expecting assistance. Thank you for your consideration solves that problem. "Any and all help is much appreciated" is platitudinous. Changing it to the future -- will be appreciated -- makes it less insipid, but once the meat's been tainted, it can't be retrieved: only an ingrate doesn't appreciate any and all help. –  user21497 Oct 22 '12 at 22:50
    
That is a good point. I guess that's what I meant by 'official' mails though, as if it's not a personal favour, it's not rude to expect assistance in the same sense as if you were asking someone to paint your house. Also, I get what you mean about changing it to future tense, but not the ingrate part. "Any and all help" implies that even if all you get is a response, you still appreciate it. I don't know if I'm being too cynical, but in my experience, people tend not to appreciate anything short of everything they ask for in such a request. –  Noxialis Oct 23 '12 at 1:19
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I don't understand how you can essentially say two contradictory things in that email and not notice it. "Requesting assistance from someone" assumes that the someone in question may, in fact, not comply for one reason or another; therefore, "much appreciated" is presumptuous because it assumes compliance. The only circumstance in which it seems appropriate to me to express your appreciation simultaneously with such a request is when the assistance has been guaranteed in advance because the someone you're asking has already said "Ask and ye shall receive".

ANSWER 1: No, unless there's no question about whether you'll get the assistance, and then it's not really a request for assistance but a request that the already requested or promised (or both) assistance be delivered now.
ANSWER 2: No, because terse expressions of gratitude are no expressions of gratitude except when asking a stranger what time it is. (Which is not to say that effusive expressions of gratitude are always appropriate either.)
ANSWER 3: No, because curt and peremptory expressions like Much appreciated are dismissive and condescending, IMHO.

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I personally think that it is a matter of choice whether you would like to use it or not. I'd say "Much appreciated" is a casual sign-off that should be used for expressing gratitude for favors, like trying to confirm with someone to be a reference for your letter of recommendation or basically asking of someone to do a favor, like babysitting, housekeeping, etc. and once the favor is accepted the response would sign-off with a "thank you" to redeem any sense of expressed gratitude as genuine. It wouldn't be taken as condescending because you have not received any response that would anticipate a declined offer. Essentially if you are starting a conversation asking for a request, "Much appreciated" is the best sign-off. When in doubt, it's always best to use "thank you" in place of "much appreciated".

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