16

How should one end - ie, sign-off - a letter that begins with "To whom it may concern"?

2

5 Answers 5

7

If you are referring to the "Complimentary Close" (the word above your signature), it depends on the tone and formality of the letter. If you do not have a specific person to address the letter to, I would use either of these:

Respectfully yours,

or

Sincerely,

9
  • 5
    The complimentary close when you don't have the person's name is "yours faithfully". Mar 28, 2012 at 21:33
  • 1
    Hmm. I would never use that. Can I respectfully ask for a source?
    – JLG
    Mar 28, 2012 at 22:23
  • 1
    I give a source in answer below. Mar 28, 2012 at 23:34
  • Also this answer cites the Oxford Handbook of Commercial Correspondence. Mar 29, 2012 at 7:54
  • 2
    @Matt, thank you. Do you think this is a UK/US difference? I don't think I have ever seen "yours faithfully" and we do receive letters addressed to "To whom it may concern." It sounds quaint.
    – JLG
    Mar 29, 2012 at 13:36
12

According to Miss Manners, the answer is "Yours faithfully". That is what I use.

2
  • -1 What, are we the recipient's dog now?
    – user14070
    Mar 28, 2012 at 20:57
  • 1
    @JoshuaDrake - this is the traditional sign off of a letter for when you don't know the name of the recipient. Mar 28, 2012 at 21:32
4

It partly depends on the contents of the letter. If I'm submitting, say, a letter of reference, that might warrant something a little different than a general inquiry, a request for a favor, or a formal complaint.

As was stated previously, Sincerely is perfectly acceptable, and almost always a safe option. But if you wanted to soften a complaint, then Respectfully might be a better choice.

By default, in the To-Whom-It-May-Concern situation, I don't know who will be reading the letter (otherwise, I would have begun with something less generic). With that in mind, I'll sometimes want to end with my contact information, in case the matter needs further discussion to resolve:

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you,                     

John R. Doe
(555) 867-5309
jrdoe18220@ELU.com
3

"Sincerely" is a fairly common formal sign off.

0
2

School taught me to sign letters addressed personally 'yours sincerely' and letters addressed impersonally 'yours faithfully'. Thus, if your salutation is 'To whom it may concern' the corresponding valediction would be 'yours faithfully'.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.