How to end a letter in style
Signing off. It seems as if ending a letter should be the easiest part. The content has already been planned and written. There’s only a handful of words need to be added.
At this point, you know you shouldn’t end a letter to your loved ones the same way you’d close out a note to your boss. However, it might still be unclear what the best word choice is for each situation.
What's the difference, for instance, between sincerely and yours truly?
Each different phrase has subtle connotations attached to it that can shape your recipient's reaction. To understand how to end a letter, we’re breaking down the following farewell phrases and the situations in which they should be used.
Sincerely, or sincerely yours, is often the go-to sign off for formal letters. And with good reason.
This ending restates the sincerity of your letter's intent. It’s also a safe choice if you’re not familiar with the letter's recipient, as it's preferable to use a sign-off that is both common and formal in such a situation.
Ending your letter with best, all the best, or best wishes indicates that you hope the recipient experiences only good things in the future.
Although it is not quite as formal as sincerely, best is still acceptable as a polite, formal yet semi-formal letter ending. It’s proper for business contacts as well as friends.
Like the sign-off of best, best regards expresses that you’re thinking of the recipient with the best of feelings and intentions.
Despite its similarity to best, this sign-off is a little more formal, and is meant for business letters and unfamiliar contacts. A semi-formal variation would be warm regards. An even more formal variation is simply regards.
Speak to you soon
Variations to this farewell phrase include see you soon, talk to you later, speak soon, and looking forward to speaking with you soon.
These signoffs indicate that you’re expecting to continue the conversation with your contact. It can be an effective ending to a letter or email when confirming or planning a specific date for a face-to-face meeting.
Although these endings can be used in either formal or casual settings, they typically carry a more formal tone. The exceptions here are talk to you later and speak soon, which err on the casual side.
Thank you, thanks, thanks so much, and many thanks are effective endings to a letter when you’re sincerely expressing gratitude. If you’re using it as your standard letter ending, however, it can fall flat; the reader will be confused if there’s no reason for you to be thanking them.
Try to use thanks and its variations only when you think you haven't expressed your gratitude enough. Otherwise, it may come across as excessive.
We also advise on selecting an alternative farewell when you're issuing an order, as thanks can seem presumptuous to offer before the task has even been accepted.
Having no sign-off for your letter is a little unusual but, with the digital age upon us, has become acceptable in some cases. For instance, when you’re replying to an email chain.
However, in a first email and in all written correspondence, including neither a sign-off nor your name will make your letter seem to end abruptly. And for you to appear rude.
If you’re wondering where the line between formal and informal begins to blur, it’s here.
Yours truly implies the integrity of the message that precedes your name, but it also implies that you’re devoted to the recipient in some way (i.e., a friend).
This ending can be used in various situations, when writing letters to people both familiar and unfamiliar to you. However, yours truly carries a more casual and familiar tone, making it most appropriate for your friends and family.
Simply put, yours truly is best used when you want to emphasize that you mean the contents of your letter.
Take care is also a semi-formal way to end your letter. Like the signoff all the best, take care wishes that no harm come to the reader.
Like ending your letter with yours truly, however, the word choice is less formal and implies that the writer is at least somewhat familiar with the reader.
Though it may seem obvious, ending a letter in this way is informal. As the signoff itself states, is to be used only when writing to your friend.
Use this ending wisely to avoid embarrassment.
Cheers is a lighthearted ending that expresses your best wishes for the reader.
Due to its association with drinking alcohol, cheers is best saved this for cases where you’re familiar with the reader and when the tone is optimistic and casual.
It’s also important to note that cheers is associated with British English, so this farewell may seem odd to readers who speak other styles of English and are not very familiar with the term.
This ending, or the even simpler variation of love, signals a familiar and intimate relationship with the reader.
In other words, this signoff should be used only in letters and emails to people with whom you are very familiar.
As this signoff literally means hugs and kisses, it's best that you reserve it for letters addressed to those closest to you.
Hugs and kisses aren’t meant for the bottom of your weekly newsletter, post-interview thank you note, or cover letter.
Closing it all out
Beyond the signoff, there’s more to understanding how to end a letter than just your signature. You might be wondering how to punctuate your signoff, what to include in your signature, or what P.S. stands for at the end of a letter or email.
When writing your signoff, it's important to remember to use proper capitalization and punctuation.
Only the first word should be capitalized (example: Best wishes). The signoff also should be followed by a comma, not a period.
Here are a few examples:
- Yours truly,
- Best regards,
With emails, you have the option of creating a standard signature at the bottom of each of your messages. Ideally, it will make clear who you are and what your contact information is.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to include the title of your position (or your degree(s)), after a comma in the same line as your name:
KJ Blattenbauer, stationery snob
In addition to including your phone number(s) and email address, consider adding the street address of your office. Reflect on the value of linking to your social media profiles—provided they’re maintained with your professional life in mind.
If you’re considering adding a signature to your personal email, which might be used for both business and personal communications, deciding what needs to be added is a little more complicated.
Once again, include your necessary contact information, but only include information you think your recipient will need. After all, you don't want to overwhelm your reader with information.
Also known as the P.S. at the bottom of your letter or email, the postscript comes after your signoff and name. Never before.
The postscript is meant to include material that is supplementary, subordinated, or not vital to your letter.
It’s best to avoid postscripts in formal writing, as the information may go unnoticed or ignored. In those cases, try to include all information in the body text of the letter.
In casual and personal correspondences, a postscript is generally acceptable. However, try to limit it to include only humorous or unnecessary material.
And there you have it! With these letter-ending techniques explained, your farewell vocabulary is now boosted.
We can’t wait to see how you’ll be finishing your next letter!
The Pretty Peptalks team
P.S. Looking for bright, simple stationery to send far and wide? We suggest stocking up here.
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