Do you ever find yourself stuck on how to end a professional email? I know I do. Do you give your recipient a warm, friendly closing, or something a little colder, but more professional? Do you include your contact information, or is that a given?
In this article, we’ll explore some of the email etiquette behind email closings, and cover how to end a professional email in such a way that leaves the best impression on your recipient.
How to End a Professional Email: The Fundamentals
There are many different types of emails you send, but no matter what you’re sending, these three fundamental areas will be the most important to ending your email “correctly:”
- Recap action items or high-level takeaways. First, if your email is rather long, you’ll want to recap the main action items or high-level takeaways that you want your recipient to remember. It’s a useful way to concisely summarize a long message, and it’s considerate to your recipient, ultimately saving them time. It can also help you clarify your main point if you’re not certain you nailed it in the body of your message.
- Choose the right closing. Next, you’ll need to choose the right closing for your message. I’ll go over some of the best examples of closings in a dedicated section below, but for now, understand that your closing will convey both an attitude and a degree of formality. While subtle, your word choice could have a powerful effect on how your message is received.
- Perfect your signature. After the closing, you’ll have the opportunity to leave an email signature. The best way to approach this is to have a standing signature template you apply to all future emails in Gmail; I’ll cover how to do this and what to include in a dedicated section.
First, let’s talk about ending the body of your message. If your email is only a few sentences long, don’t even worry about it. Your message is short and simple enough that your point should be clear, and you won’t need a separate summary line to convey it. Just head straight to the closing if this is the case.
However, if your email is long, complicated, or directed to multiple people, it’s important to boil your content down to the main highlights. This will reinforce your point and make it easy for your recipients to reference this email in the future, boosting their productivity indirectly.
One of the most straightforward ways to do this is by leading in with “In summary,” or “In conclusion.” Following this, simply restate your main point.
If you have several points, if you have a series of questions that need answers, or if you have several action items for a recipient, your best bet is to use a bulleted list. Bullet points are easy on the eyes, and they help you organize your items efficiently. Keep your list entries short here; if your recipient needs further clarification, they can refer to the rest of your email.
If you’re sending to multiple recipients, it can be helpful to separate conclusions by name. For example, you might end an email with something like this:
Mark: Please collate these files by Wednesday, and follow up with Julie.
Rebecca: Please let me know how to proceed on [Point A].
Stan: How long will it take you to finish your section of work?
How to Close a Professional Email
Let’s move onto how to close a professional email—the bit of text you include at the end of your email to complete the message. It’s usually followed by an email signature, or at least your name.
Your choice of closing will impact the impression you leave your recipient. For example, different closings have different levels of formality; you wouldn’t close an email the same way with your childhood friend the way you would a new sales prospect. Different closings relay different levels of friendliness as well, sometimes correlating with formality; in other words, people might read your email with a warmer or more welcoming tone when you use the right level of friendliness.
There are different considerations you’ll need to bear in mind when evaluating these dimensions. For example, a formal email closing can help you be taken more seriously by a superior, or show how committed you are to professionalism. A friendly email ending can make sure your criticism or negative feedback is taken softly, or show that you’re approachable.
One last dimension to consider is your originality. People get hundreds of emails a day, likely seeing the same old closings over and over. If you use something unique or different, it could help you stand out, possibly helping you develop your personal brand.
So, what’s the best way to end a professional email? These are some examples of commonly used (and highly useful) email closings, ranked in order, in my opinion, from best to worst:
“Sincerely” is one of the great classic ways to end a professional email. If you’re not sure what to include as a closing, this is your safest bet. It’s the perfect middle-of-the-road option, balancing formality with friendliness, though it is used frequently.
“Cheers” is a fantastic friendly closing that’s still formal enough to use in a professional setting. Try to imagine someone saying cheers while frowning. You probably can’t. It’s a warm end to your email that can soften even your harshest body message. This one is my personal favorite and the one I use every day in email communication!
“Regards” is somewhat generic, but that can be a strength. It’s formal enough that it isn’t perceived as cold, but it’s not especially warm either. You can modify this in a few different ways, like with “best regards,” “fond regards,” or “kind regards.” These may add a bit of warmth or flair to your closing.
4. Best wishes/regards
“Best wishes” or “Best regards” is a decent option for how to end a professional email, and one that isn’t used all the time, but it can give off a greeting card vibe, so it isn’t appropriate for all situations. You might want to save it for friends or close business contacts.
Simplified, “best” is an adequate closing for someone you know. It isn’t recommended for brand-new acquaintances or contacts because it can come off as a bit curt, and isn’t as formal as some of the other options on this list.
6. Thanks/Thank you/Thanks in advance
One of the most common categories of closings is the “thank you” family, including “thanks,” “thank you,” and “thanks in advance.” There aren’t many differences between these variables. All of them are suitably formal, and simple enough that they won’t attract attention. They’re also perfect for emailing a request.
7. I appreciate your (fill in the blank)
A bit on the longer side, the literal meaning of “I appreciate your (blank)” is the same as “thank you,” but it conveys more intensity and possibly, sincerity. Use it when thanking someone or making a major request.
8. With gratitude
You can also close with “with gratitude,” but it can come off as stuffier than a simple “thanks.” It works perfectly well in super-formal situations or with conservative organizations.
9. As ever
We venture into more obscure territory with “as ever.” Vaguely archaic but certainly unique, “as ever” is a good choice if you’re looking for something original and formal, but don’t bust it out in an unfamiliar setting.
This is another alternative option if you’re trying to end your email in a friendly, unique way.
11. Yours truly
“Yours truly” stands with “sincerely” as one of the great classics, though it hasn’t aged well. The main red flag here is that it can come off as overly personal; it’s the kind of thing you might expect to see in a love letter.
You can also modify these email closings with a preceding dash, a following comma, or a following exclamation point. The comma is the most straightforward choice, but feel free to experiment. Exclamation points do come off as informal, however, so only use them in situations where you have an established professional or personal relationship with the recipient.
Don’t take your email endings too seriously. As long as you’re in the ballpark of the tone or formality you want to convey, your choice won’t make or break your message.
The Email Signature
After your closing, you should include an email signature, which will contain some basic information about you and your business. This will help your recipients better manage and understand your message, and will provide them will all the information they need to contact you again.
To create an email signature, head to the Settings menu of Gmail. Head to the General tab, and scroll down to the Signature section. By default, you’ll have “No signature,” but you can check the second box to activate an email signature. If you do this, all future emails will include your designated signature/message. The same section has an open box, where you can customize your signature the way you would any email message.
You’ll want to include all relevant information for your recipient, but you’ll also want to keep your signature as concise as possible; if you have too many images or too much text, it can be annoying.
- Full name. This is a must. Even if your email address contains your full name, most people will look here first when they’re trying to figure out how to spell your name.
- Title/company. This is also a must. Include your job title in full, as well as your company name. Again, even if your email address contains this information, you should include it in your signature.
- Email address. You might roll your eyes at this one, but not everyone in the modern world is technologically savvy. Sure, they can reply to your email or look at the From line to see your email address, but it doesn’t hurt to include it in your signature for redundancy. This way, your recipient can see all your contact information in the same place.
- Phone number. Speaking of contact information, include a phone number. If your recipient wants to take this written conversation live, they can call you directly. If you have multiple numbers, like an office phone and cell phone, be sure to include them all and identify which is which.
- Physical address. Less common and less important, you may wish to include a physical address. This may be important if you’re associated with one of many locations, or if you’re anticipating a visit in the near future.
- Social links. In some cases, you may wish to include links to your social media profiles. Generally, you’ll want to avoid including profile images or social platform icons; the link is plenty.
- Headshot or logo. Some people like to include a headshot or a small logo image in their signature. While there are some advantages to this, I advise against it. It adds to the size of your email without adding much value, and can be considered annoying.
- Quote. Some people like to include a motivational quote, or some other snippet to show off their personality. While this can add flair, you’ll want to exercise caution; not all recipients will take your message the same way. If you do decide to include a quote, keep it short and make sure it’s generic enough to appeal to all possible recipients you might have.
- Legal requirements. In some cases, you’ll be legally required to include some fine print in your emails. A signature is the perfect place to include it.
Learning how to end a professional email can help you make a better impression, but all emails should start with a proper greeting. Check out our in-depth guide on how to start an email for 51 ideas to get you started on that front. And if you’re serious about improving your email habits, you’ll need to take a deep dive into your daily email habits and see what you can improve. With a tool like EmailAnalytics, you can explore unique data visuals to see your average email response time, your busiest days of the week and times of day, and how your email threads typically develop. Sign up for a free trial today and learn more about how you can email more productively!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics, and co-host of the podcast The Entrepreneur Cast.