At the end of written communication like emails and letters, it is customary to use a closing valediction or "complementary close". Which formal and informal expressions can be used to end emails?
In my experience working in the software industry, people who always put them into ordinary business e-mails come off as unnecessarily formal. Often foreigners have been taught in English class to do this, and the result is that I have been in meetings where foreign colleagues were ridiculed for e-mails constructed to a ceremonious level of formality.
I've just looked through my most recently sent business e-mails and the only complimentary close I ever use is "thanks", in about a quarter of my e-mails—mostly ones where I've asked the recipient to do something. The rest of them just end with a dash and my name. Looking through my received business e-mails, I see the same. Most e-mails have no complimentary close, and of the ones that do, nearly all of them have "thanks" or similar ("many thanks", "thank you", "thanks all", etc.). I got one "regards" in the last week as well (out of about 250 messages).
Your experience may vary, I suppose, depending on the culture of the company you work for.
A colleague of mine uses an e-mail template that begins every e-mail with "Heyas," and closes with "Humbly". He is a quirky fellow.
My personal recommendation (at least when corresponding via e-mail for business with Americans) is to err on the side of no complimentary close, or a very informal one. Using a formal complimentary close marks an e-mail as extremely serious and if used on an e-mail that is not extremely serious will make it seem out of place or even funny.
Business Email/Letter Closings:
- Best regards,
- Good wishes,
- Many thanks,
- Most sincerely,
- Thank you,
- With confidence.
Informal Email/Letter Closings:
- God bless,
- Gotta boogie,
- Grace and peace,
- Have fun,
- Health and happiness,
- Keep the faith,
- Later Vader,
- Later alligator,
- Lots of love,
- Onward and upward,
- Over and out,
- Peace, love & happiness,
- Peace & blessings,
- Rock on,
- See ya,
- Smell ya later,
- TA TA,
- Your friend,
- Dream BIG.
"Yours sincerely" and "Yours faithfully" now sound somewhat formal and I'd advise against them unless your email is otherwise official or formal in nature.
"Best regards" (or just "Br") is, in my experience, extremely common in business emails, and a safe choice for many situations. "Best wishes," is also a common alternative that falls into this category.
For informal situations or when messaging friends, I'd probably go with something lighter, such as:
I'll tend to use "Best regards," for anything even semi-formal, including correspondence with people in a business context whom I don't know very well.
When I use to work at NEC, it was considered the way you must sign off your emails when dealing with any of the Tokyo managers or engineers, and so it kind of just stuck.
For less formal, it'll be "Thanks" if appropriate, "Take care," or occasionally "Peace and chocolate."
Never ever put it in your email signature. A colleague of mine has "Regards," in his signature and it grates every time I see it. It may save you some typing, but it comes off as disingenuous. You're better off with nothing if you can't be bothered.
There seems to be a great uncertainty among business people on how to close - and address - emails. Looking at my emails, I have found that a lot of people simply have a template, which either has their name and position/contact details, or that preceded by "Regards"/"Kind Regards".
I personally dislike "regards", because it is obvious that no-one ever means it, and I also find it hilarious when I get a strongly worded email from a superior demanding some sort of action, which then ends in "Best Regards".
I have found that "cheers", is a very neutral ending, that is both informal and polite, and, in my experience, has been used a lot in business and informal contexts. Most of my close friends end their emails to me with "cheers", and at the moment, as I am interviewing for jobs, I have found that most recruiters end their emails to me with "cheers". (I am in New Zealand). One particular recruitment agent has been more creative than the others with her endings, and has used a different one with each correspondence. She has used
- Best wishes,
- Take care,
- All the best,
- Good luck,
I particularly like the last one in that list.
In the US military, we use Respectfully and Very Respectfully or even Hooah!. I use Respectfully when I am closing a formal letter to a peer. I also use Respectfully in any letter which might otherwise be considered informal, but in which I append my rank to my name, because the fact that I'm writing in my military capacity alone makes it formal in a sense, even if I'm just writing to inquire about some triviality.
I use Very Respectfully when closing any letter to a superior; when I need to convey the utmost formality and respect in my closing. These are military writing conventions, so I can not invent some flowery superlative closing to sound poetic and transcendent, because I would only appear unprofessional for not following the convention.
If I am writing an utterly casual letter in some military context, e.g., to inform my mother that I'm returning home in a week's time, I might say something corny like Hooah! Then again, this is really not important to mention; I would probably use Love, in that situation anyway.
In Thelemic correspondence, the convention is to open with 93 and to close with 93 93/93 as in:
I will be attending the whatever-event on xxx date.
Among my friends, I tend to use whatever closing comes to mind; I just pluck something out of my memory, like Hail Satan! or Praise Jesus! I sometimes open with a good old Latin Ave! or Salve.
There are my two cents. Of course, a long time has passed since that expression was coined (pun intended), so I suppose what I've written here would be closer to "my 50 cents."
For formal email, just as in formal letter writing, the standard set of valedictions and advice apply.* Wikipedia and supporting sources cover this in great detail, so I recommend at least having a look: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valediction
For informal email, creative use of the valediction can actually add warmth and intrigue to your original statement.
As general creative advice, abusing the valediction to include additional material or postscript can be greatly entertaining for the reader within the appropriate contexts. But obviously, selection of these scenarios is left to your own judgmental heuristics and creative tastes for writing.
*_In fact, I'm surprised that a backdoor editor improving the OP's question has been the only person to use this term thusfar.
I would generally use the suitably neutral and meaningless "Regards," in a business email - sometimes changing to "Thanks," where appropriate (always keeping the comma in a very traditional manner). On a couple of line reply I may drop any salutation. I would keep to the formal "Yours sincerely/faithfully," in a business letter.
On personal emails I would vary widely from nothing to some elaborate blessing and anything inbetween depending on what I was saying. My favourite in Christian/church contexts is "Your brother", either followed by my name or just a full stop.
I have found a very interesting collection of email closing. Hope you will like it. I usually end my emails with Regards or Happy hacking .
'Regards' means nothing. 'Kind regards' at least means something. But regards simply means 'thoughts'. Those thoughts could be as diverse as 'I love you' or 'you smell like sauerkraut'. Cheers also smacks to me of informal pub language. Each to their own I guess. I smiled when I saw 'toodle pip' in the above list. I have resolved to use that more often.