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Mar 1, 2021

How to end an email professionally – Best sign-offs to use & closings to avoid

Discover examples of professional email sign-offs for any situation and learn what closings to keep away from.

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Samuli Pehkonen

Marketing

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Figuring out how to end an email professionally can be time-consuming as there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Is "Best" boring? Am I overdoing it with "Sincerely"? Leaving the sign-off out will solve the problem, right? We've all been there.

On the other hand, overlooking the closing is like dropping the ball before the goal line. It’s literally the last thing the recipient reads before making a decision on their response. Still, ending even the most important emails are too often treated as an afterthought. 

The best way to sign off always depends on the recipient, your relationship with them, and your email's purpose. So, the challenge is to choose one that hits the right tone given the context.

To help, we'll highlight examples of professional email sign-offs from formal to friendly and flag closings that you should avoid to.

Why using professional email closings is important

When talking to someone face to face or over the phone, you surely don't walk away or hang up without saying a word, right? You should approach your email ending the same way as concluding any conversation. Whether it's a new contact at a networking event, a Zoom meeting with a business associate, or your manager, you always want to leave a good impression.

The ending of a professional email should consist of three parts.

1. Sign-off

A word or phrase such as "Regards" that signals that your email ends – the best one depends on the context.

2. Your name

Your full name to identify you and avoid any confusion – if you are on a first-name basis with the recipient, you can leave the last name out.

3. Signature

Your title, company, and contact information such as phone number, website, and address for further identification and communications need outside email – often left out after the first message in an on-going email exchange.

The identifying function of your email ending is pretty straightforward, but the devil is the details. What can make or break your email is the sign-off. Choosing the one that conveys the right tone can significantly impact the recipient's impression of you and how soon you hear back from them. If at all.  

Email sign-offs for formal business

A formal email is most often sent to someone you haven't met before, a person you don't know well, or a recipient in a position of authority. At work, formality is the way to go when making a business inquiry, communicating with a client you are not yet close with, or messaging an executive. In these emails, you always want to be polite right-down to the closing line. 

Sincerely

The not-so-old-fashioned version of "Yours sincerely" is one of the most formal sign-offs and is often used in professional correspondence, especially in emails accompanying cover letters.

Respectfully

If you need to address government officials, this option is something to keep in your back pocket, but remember to reserve "Respectfully yours" for the President. 

Yours faithfully

Etiquette suggests that if you can't address the recipient by their name, this closing is the appropriate option to combine with "Dear sir" or "Dear madam" – unless you're American and go with "Yours truly".

Kind regards

Warmer option for a first email to a person – a study even found the more formal alternative of "Best regards" to be the perfect way to end an email at work. 

Best wishes

Despite the risk of triggering birthday card associations, wishing someone the best is polite and friendly at the same time. 

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It's always safer to lean towards the formal end of the spectrum when you're unsure about what closing line is the most appropriate for your email.

Friendly ways to sign off a professional email 

Most business emails exist in the elusive middle ground between formal and casual. That's exactly the reason why you want to always weigh your options before pressing 'Send'. Despite many workplaces leaning towards more casual correspondence nowadays, you want to be polite, friendly, and professional in internal emails, not to mention when communicating with someone outside your organization.

Regards

When you are not yet quite sure how close you are with the recipient but don't want to appear overly formal, this option strikes a happy medium despite being slightly stiff. 

Best

Call it bland, we call it fail-safe – you can't go wrong with this or the more dressed-up version "Best regards" when signing off an email to a co-worker or clients and vendors you already have a working relationship with. 

Thank you

A little thanks often goes a long way but make sure to use it only when you're genuinely expressing gratitude for something the recipient has done or risk coming off as presumptuous.

As ever

A true classic that assures someone you've already been working with for a longer time is that your relationship is as good as ever when they get to the end of your email. 

Cheers

The one to divide opinions but a perfectly acceptable way to end a business email if you are friendly with the recipient – especially if you are British or Australian.

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When replying to an email, you can mirror the sender's tone – end your email with the same sign-off or an alternative that matches the level of formality of their closing.

Email closings to avoid at work

Even though the lines between our professional and personal lives have increasingly blurred and work emails can reassemble text messages at times, some ways to end an email don't belong to an office. There is a range of obvious examples, from slang to "Love" and "Later" to confusing abbreviations. However, we want to help you avoid some practices and specific closing lines that carry a more nuanced risk of business email faux pas.

Take care 

A seemingly thoughtful closing that's prone to provoke paranoia as the recipient can feel that you know about the danger that they are not yet aware of themselves.

No closing line at all

Even though it's just a word or short phrase, leaving the sign-off out can seem cold or even rude, yet it's customary when the messages start to fly, and the chain gets longer.

Thanks in advance

Despite being proven to be effective, it carries the risk of appearing entitled, so you are better off expressing your gratitude without setting expectations.

Have a blessed day

It's always safer to keep religion and business separate, so don't risk it no matter how unspiritual your use of this sign-off would be.

Looking forward to hearing from you 

Harmless at first glance but can come across as passive-aggressive and translate to demand, especially if you request something from the recipient. 

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Even though you'd have exchanged several emails with someone remember to still end your emails professionally as you can't be sure who'll end up reading them if the recipient decides to forward the exchange.

Even though the closing of an email is something you're likely to write last, it deserves as much attention as the subject line, greeting, and body. To sign off email professionally, you need to be aware of the context. Next time you second-guess how to end an email, consider whether it's formal, friendly, or something in between. If you are still having hard time to choose come back to this blog post for help.

Flowrite can help you deliver the message in a way you intended to – choose how you want your email to sound like, and our AI-powered writing tool will watch your tone for you. 

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