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


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,



  • 5
    The complimentary close when you don't have the person's name is "yours faithfully". – Matt E. Эллен Mar 28 '12 at 21:33
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    Hmm. I would never use that. Can I respectfully ask for a source? – JLG Mar 28 '12 at 22:23
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    I give a source in answer below. – Ellen Spertus Mar 28 '12 at 23:34
  • Also this answer cites the Oxford Handbook of Commercial Correspondence. – Matt E. Эллен Mar 29 '12 at 7:54
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    @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 '12 at 13:36

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

  • -1 What, are we the recipient's dog now? – user14070 Mar 28 '12 at 20:57
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    @JoshuaDrake - this is the traditional sign off of a letter for when you don't know the name of the recipient. – Matt E. Эллен Mar 28 '12 at 21:32

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

"Sincerely" is a fairly common formal sign off.


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'.

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