In search of the perfect email sign-off

Here’s a guest post from New York-based and friend of the Big Show, Alina Simone.

Remember being a sad weirdo in high school and feeling so insecure, you just kind of cop other people’s style and hope no one will notice?

Sculpting your hair into a black Aquanet spire to fit in with the Goths? Shredding the skin off your knees doing an Olly to impress the skaters?

Okay that’s just me. But I thought I’d at least kissed that grim, grasping feeling goodbye.

Actually, it confronts me every day, almost every hour, in the form of the email sign-off. Am I the only one? The only one who feels like nothing fits?

That all those “Warmlys” and “Regards” and “All bests” are the worst?

And all those international options — “Ciao” and “Suerte” and “Bises” and, God forbid, “Tatty bye”? — don’t help. They hurt. A lot.

There are days I would willingly shave off my eyebrows just to be excused from ever thinking about email sign-offs again. Mostly I just wait for that merciful plateau to arrive in an e-relationship, when you can finally drop the sign-off.

Until then, here is the détente that I’ve reached: “Poka poka,” for my Russian friends. (It means “Bye-bye” and feels okay.)

“Warmly,” with people I don’t know. (Meh.) “Hugs” for everyone at The World. (No one’s complained.) And for my family: nothing. Because it’s they’re stuck with me — even if I start using “Tatty bye.”

Then I decided to rally: to embark on a Goldilocks-type quest for the ideal sign-off, one unique to me. Just like the Colonial War re-enactor I recently interviewed who signs off, “Yours in Liberty.” Perfect, right?

So I took to Facebook, where some truly horrifying options instantly emerged. Like “Toodles.” And “Ta for now.” Then came the inscrutable hipster acronyms that make old people sad. TTYL? GG? Sorry, no.

My favorite of the bunch was “Stay classy.” But I feared “Stay classy” was like some gold lame dress I’d buy on impulse only to have my friends look at it and go, “Um, how about you stay classy?”

I invite my friend Stephen over to be my sign-off spirit guide. His sign-offs are the best. Again, they probably wouldn’t work for me, but suit him to a tee. Like the Spanglish, “Hasta then” (so much better than “Later”). Or the casually guillotined, “As evs.”

According to Stephen, the ideal sign-off requires both humor and speed. Keep it light and don’t overthink it. But even Stephen makes mistakes.

“Well I don’t sign off, ‘All best’ anymore,” Stephen confessed. “I once sent one that I thought said ‘All best’ to somebody at Ralph Lauren, and my finger moved and I wrote, ‘Ass best,’ and they blocked my emails.”

My Facebook friends also shared mortifying sign-offs they’d received from non-English speakers, like “Thanks Sir Mister!” and the sinister-sounding “I look forward to your cooperation.”

Even if it’s the safest option, though, Stephen still won’t be switching to “sincerely” anytime soon. Unless he secretly hates you.

“When you think about it, sincerely is the nicest because you’re telling someone you’re sincere,” Stephen told me. “You’re giving them all of your true feeling. But it sounds cold.”

This whole time, I’m nodding along, smiling, but when he digs into “Cheers,” my heart takes a plunge.

“I don’t like ‘Cheers,’ if it’s coming from an American. I think it has no place here. What are we going to do, say ‘lorry’ next? ‘Lift’? You know, really!”

Guilty, guilty, guilty. Not only do I long to say lorry and lift, but I yearn to use gobsmacked and knackered and especially cheers, which sounds so sophisticated when my British editor at The World, Patrick Cox, tosses it off, but apparently makes me sound like… a tosser.

This may sound like a tangent, but a while back I fell in love with the Danish TV series, “Borgen.” ‘Borgen’ makes me want to move to an ill-lit apartment in Copenhagen and spend my days mooning around cafés with brooding young men.

In Danish, ‘Borgen’ means castle but serves as a nickname for the parliament. To me, it felt like a sign-off. So I started using it with my “Borgen”-watching friends and then they started using it too.

True, people who don’t watch “Borgen” won’t get it, but do they even matter? When nothing makes sense, why not embrace the nonsensical?

What’s the most memorable email sign-off you’ve encountered? Let us know in the comments.


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102 Comments

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102 responses to “In search of the perfect email sign-off

  1. Too funny. There are too many ways to sign off! Love your style.

  2. Ugh I’m glad you finally put into words something I have been struggling with for the last year. I usually say “best” because I’m trying desperately to sound professional. It’s hard because in my emails I’m often asking someone to do something and I don’t want to sound bossy or mean. I personally hate it when people say “thanks for understanding”… Especially when it’s a situation they know I will not understand haha

  3. I’ve never thought much about how I sign off my e-mails and I don’t plan on doing much thinking about it. For work it is always “Thank you” for personal it’s either “Thanks” or “Later” or the ever so useful “Matt”. It may be impersonal or cold or whatever, but it will never make me look lame because nobody will ever say I’m trying too hard to be liked or to be overly clever.

    My biggest pet peeve, people that quote other famous people in their signatures. I’d rather see a quote of your own, if you’re going to put any time into having a quote at all. Which I’d rather you didn’t, but that’s just my personality. I enjoyed the article nonetheless.

    Thanks

  4. ‘Cheerio’ is one I rather like.
    We used ‘Yours sincerely in Christ’ whilst at Convent School.
    I am affronted you don’t like ‘Tatty bye”.
    ‘How tickled I am indeed’, ‘by jove Mrs’.
    All from the repertoire of Ken Dodd, Scouse comedian….

  5. I just put my name. Simple and effective. 😛

  6. I just write my name. I think it is easy, simple, and straight to the point that it was from me.

  7. chadlerch

    Love this topic. I hate when people auto sign “Best wishes”, or “Best”, they don’t really mean it. “Hasta then”, now that’s a good one!

  8. Simple. Just sign off with a sentence referring back to a highlight or important point they mentioned in the email.

    Looking forward to trying out that wine with you soon,

    Call me when the baby chicks arrive so I can come over and gush,

    Gonna look for that new rose cultivar when I’m next at the nursery,

    Can’t wait to see that finished kitchen,

    Hoping those goat sacrifices bring about a speedy end to winter,

    Anna

    • Hahaha, that was hilarious! 🙂

      I hope those goat sacrifices bring a speedy end to winter too because the baby chicks have arrived and you should totally come over to see them in the finished kitchen while I’m next at the nursery,
      adila

  9. It is hard to figure out how to sign off!

  10. The most memorable sign off for me is a friend that uses “Breathe properly. Stay curious. And eat your beets.”. I tried to get clever and remind myself to be less verbose by using “KISS IT”(Keep It Simple Silly). Guess the extra IT was what I should have deleted out, although the two friendships I lost over it are better off gone.

  11. Many of my friends sign off blessings or peace or shalom. My tagline is “a ship is safest in the harbor, but that is not what ships are built for.” I use it to remind myself that my kids cannot stay in thevharbor.

  12. I’ve never thought about this. Although I don’t really send personal e-mails anymore. I do that via text/Facebook. My e-mails are pretty much all professional.

    Keeping a professional tone at work/with clients is especially important so I’ve never been very creative. For formal work e-mails (job applications, initial/early client contacts, notes to the C-suite, etc), I use a standard “sincerely.” For informal ones (questions about a task/project, sending attachments/information that we already discussed, talking with my direct supervisor…etc), I will use “thanks so much.”

    If the e-mail is more than one reply long, or if I am talking to someone on the same level, I will simply sign my name.

  13. arkansasrose

    I hate when I receive an email from someone I know and they sign-off with their name. Like… oh…. who are you again? Even though I’ve known you all your life, I’ve forgotten your name!

    Sometimes, I’ll sign-off fitting the friend. One uses “See ya on the flip side” and I use “Keep it sunny” -no clue how that one started, it just evolved over time- and another uses “Toodles” so I use “Ta-ta dah-lin”

    I generally sign-off with “Mxo” My initial + the love/hug signs, for most friends and family. If it’s a complete stranger or a formal email I’ll sign with “Thank you, (my name)” Although it breaks my “You should know my name” rule, it’s acceptable because it’s less familiar.

    Sometimes, I’ll sign-off fitting the friend. One uses “See ya on the flip side” and I use “Keep it sunny” -no clue how that one started, it just evolved over time- and another uses “Toodles” so I use “Ta-ta dah-lin”.

    I use a different sign-off depending on the friend, my feelings at the time and the situation.

  14. arkansasrose

    Ugh, I rearranged the last sentence to go up higher and forgot to delete the repeat. Sorry!

  15. I usually use “Peace,” occasionally “Cheers,” (I’m Canadian so we get to mix & match British vs. American, heh), and sometimes “Take care,” to sign-off. But I’ve never really thought that hard about it… I’m gonna start paying more attention to others’ sign-offs now!

  16. So I guess that means “Peace out bitches” isn’t classy. Oi. I need to branch out.
    Cheers! And I hope those goat sacrifices …well, you know…see above. That writer is fab.

  17. From the first world.

  18. From an ink smeared page

    It is such an awkward thing 🙂

  19. What an interesting topic. I think it’s best to be true so I use a variety of closings. Cheers, Ann

  20. Makes on sit up and think, what?!

  21. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the Regards series: kind regards, warm regards… I use Kind regards with formal emails, but being half Kiwi, half English, Cheers the rest of the time…

    What about ‘Love’ for friends and family? Or Hang tight? I sometimes also use
    Love, light and happiness,
    Kanuka

  22. I use “Respectfully,”

  23. I sign off my blogs with “tastefully yours”, as it’s all about breakfast. But when it comes to emails, I am constantly anxious as cheers sounds so boring, but kind regards is so… I dunno, something.

    An overseas supplier used to sign off Knd Rgds, and that was hilarious as it’s only a few letters off the real deal- not worth abbreviating if you ask me.

    Ass best,
    Avlble all dy

  24. Your post brightened my whole day. This is something I struggle with also. I generally just go with ‘Kind regards’. But then I only email for business like stuff. I usually Facebook my friends.
    This leads to the whole area of email etiquette – is it okay to put in smiley faces if my boss does? Should I use an exclamation mark in order to show I am friendly? Is it ever ok to make jokes?
    It is too confusing.

  25. Very attractive post.
    How I sign off depends on what or who I have written.

  26. This made me laugh. I don’t send out too many emails. I think I’ve used “thanks for your time”, “I’m looking forward to hearing back”, and many other generic phrases. I think generic might have an ironic comeback like moustaches, though. 😉

  27. a co-worker of mine signs off with a simple “beer” when she has to email me bad news. It makes both of us feel better.

  28. haridasgowra

    good topic and intro…………

  29. Many thanks for the podcast, It was thought provoking. I can understand how Patrick feels alienated by Americans saying, “Cheers” to him, while he is desperately trying to fit into American society. I recall my own attempt to speak Japanese to Japanese in Japan. No matter how bad their English, or how good my Japanese, I usually got English shot at me. It hurt. I prayed to wake up with black hair and other homogenous J accoutrements. But.., after years of this, with nothing that I tried working, well.., don’t you know being the outsider 外人 (cf. Mandarin, 外国人), has it’s benefits. I can get a laugh and a smile right at the outset, and from there bob’s my uncle. If you cannot push, then pull in the direction you want.
    Patrick has a beautiful accent to my ear (American). Many studies show how certain people change their accent, and why others don’t. From memory, their conclusion is that accents change on the degree to which the speaker identifies with culture/people of the target accent. Apparently Patrick is proud of his UK culture, and rightly so. So don’t change. But then, US listeners will react in the manner that they always do, which was described by Patrick. What cannot be changed, can be used to advantage.
    Other perspectives: 1) I love travelling in the UK. But the accents there have much more variety than the US. New Castle becomes Nya Castle, etc. New Castletonians are not offended by Londoners, or by me a Yank trying on that accent. I believe they say that tossers are not recognized by their words, but by their actions. But I (an American) could be wrong on this. 2) I live in Hong Kong. Most people speak English with a 2nd language, with a more or less mid-Atlantic accent. But some have a very pronounced Etonian or an otherwise UK “received” accent. After 25 years here, should I still preserve my American speech and not say, “Cheers” to them? If I say Cheers, am I alienating them? My Utahn “So Long” doesn’t seem to be understood internationally. 3) The expats here are a mongrel lot. If I think hard about a certain person, I can usually guess at where his accent comes from. But this factoid just doesn’t pop into my brain now immediately like it did living in the US. In such a mongrel group, and not knowing the origin of any one, I might say Cheers, as often as I might say So Long, etc. I don’t think I have alienated people by doing this. Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe I think too much?

  30. Whatever you do, Don’t do what I did until common sense hit me!

    I had two different business auto signatures, the formal signing off Yours sincerely, and concluding with every communication channel the recipient could use to reach my business. The informal one simply signed off with Regards, and after my shortened name, the skeleton alternative contacts.

    Then I had a Personal Formal and a Personal Informal sign-off – Yours and Just me, respectively.

    Then I had one titled Family – Love yez-all

    And one, Hubby – sex ya later! (All emails to him at work were
    Subject: Family biz – as a warning not to open and read if boss was prowling. Heheh.

    And finally, one I titled (may offend; apologies in advance) Shitty Mood – Lynne

  31. Thanks to everyone imspeachless
    Have a great day

  32. Here’s my email sign off:

    With optimism,
    Janvi.

    Please consider the environment before printing this email. Thanks!

  33. At work I use. r/s, respectfully submitted

  34. I reallly liked one I have seen recently meant we could talk about Oz for a while…

    Sorry, I haven’t been the same since that house fell on my sister.

  35. Sign-offs are (whether used in email, Facebook, or any other social media) daunting.

    My father is guilty of using “Cheers”, even in work emails, and it makes me want to scream at him, “You are not British!”.

    I have been known to use “Sincerely” and “Peace”, but have never stuck with one sign-off. Just like you, I’m still searching for that perfect goodbye!

    Great post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  36. I sign off with have a nice life. Its supposed to be ironic, because life is never truly nice so work hard to make it nice. Sometimes I just write my name or a nickname only the recipient understands, makes it feel more exclusive and special.

  37. Why can’t we be more relaxed about this? We are all individuals with our own message to give, so why can’t that just be accepted as part of who we are? Too many things are over analysed, no wonder some people are nervous about putting themselves forward. Each one of us is valuable in our own way no matter how we sign off. Incidentally, I sign off in many different ways and never even think about it.

  38. You had me laughing out loud!! Thanks for the giggles! I agree “Sincerely” doesn’t quite cut it. This is something to ponder! 🙂

  39. Actually – I think regards fits very well. However, I live in Sweden, and never know how to sign off. They are much more formal when ending their emails, but it seems too formal for me. The things we worry about, eh?!

  40. I used to say “Shine On!” in my late teens/early twenties. Eeeek.

  41. Great post–I, too, agonize over this part of emails to people I don’t know well!

    In late high school/early college, as I began to embrace the idea that it was okay to be a nerd out loud, I regularly signed off “Namarie”, which was Quenya Elvish for “be well” in Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”. Later, I went through a phase of often signing off with “Grace and peace”, an allusion to the apostle Paul’s greetings in his New Testament letters (I still use this one occasionally, with fellow Christians). When I worked as an administrative assistant for a lawyer at his private practice, I used “Thank you for your time and consideration” or an occasional “sincerely”. These days, I’ve learned to tailor it to the recipient, but usually I conclude emails with some sentiment of thanks or a reference to a point made earlier in the message, unless I know the person well enough to leave off with just my name (or not even that, if it’s family or someone as close). I confess I give a little shudder now at the thought of my “Namarie”-to-everyone days, though I have a few friends I’d still use it with without qualm! It’s hard trying to put to words a piece of yourself to leave off with, without giving too much to people who won’t care.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds this a struggle! Thanks for writing, and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!
    -Sara

  42. Reblogged this on Sharu's Lair and commented:
    Mail sign-off

  43. On a community radio show I used to listen to, the announcers would sign off by saying “Bon Jovi!” I thought that worked well. 😉

  44. I can’t stand when people put “Kind regards,” it just sounds too cheesy.

    I’m boring and just put my name!

  45. Love and Cookies,
    Kiki :3 xx

  46. I always use ‘Anyway, see ya’. I start about 25% of my sentences with anyway.

  47. ghostinthelivingroom

    I really did enjoy reading this post! Hilarious! You ust won yourself a new follower…. Thank you 🙂

    Please follow my blog for a positive insight on life, daily quotes to get the day started, spontaneous poetry, trivial statements and funny anecdotes. I’m a new blogger, but trust me, you will not be disappointed. Have a beautiful and blessed day 🙂

    From, the ghost in the living room

    http://ghostinthelivingroom.wordpress.com/

  48. Reblogged this on Blogging about Life and commented:
    What a great topic!

  49. Reblogged this on Thoughts and Thinkings and commented:
    Mine is – the time you enjoyed wasting was not wasted 😉

  50. OK M N X!
    When this is used the reader has to either understand the signoff or dwell over it to generate more conversation.

  51. I never really thought about it before but sincerely does end up sounding very formal and sinister. Greetings from the UK. Until next time! 🙂

  52. I’m a big fan of kind regards, especially at work as I feel it says exactly what I’m thinking in just two words. Basically: ‘Pretty please with a cherry on top do this for me right now or I’ll personally come and throw hot coffee all over your keyboard’

  53. troismommy

    I never “sign off” – I just sign my name. In the last 4 years, I’ve published two books and had to get used to how people in the publishing business sign off. They ALL have a sign off, and it is still foreign to me. I get a lot of “All best” which means nothing to me. Especially if they are giving me bad news. I’d rather they do something like “Live Long and Prosper.” 😛

  54. loshennaidu

    Nice one, I am lazy so mostly use plain old R as abbreviation for Regards. When really energetic I use a South African phrase but in English, Stay well…

  55. Whaaahaha fantastic post! My name really is spelt Desire…. so sometimes my email is junked or deleted as X-rated or as spam. What a bummer.

  56. It actually feels pretty awkward. Its like trying to match the feeling you’re feeling at that moment with a polite way of saying goodbye 😛

  57. I thought my brain was a cluttered mess. Then I read this post. If you’re obsessing this much about saying goodbye in an email, you should seek help. No offense. I’m neurotic too, but not about email sign-offs. Thanks for the post though. Made me feel better about my brand of crazy.

  58. Reblogged this on rachphillips and commented:
    I love this post…I think its fascinating how we over concern ourselves with a small details such as how we sign off our emails. But we do. Is it too harsh, too friendly, too formal, too casual all rush through our minds. i also love how we all have our own individual styles.

    I try to sign off with a simple “best wishes” but often think that it sounds a bit sarcastic if the email wasn’t a positive one (if that makes any sense?)

    So come on, how do YOU sign off on your emails/

    • patricox

      Thanks for reblogging! Glad you liked it.

      Alina and I have taken to signing off “Borgen” to each other. With others, I use “Cheers,” “Kind regards,” “Thanks,” “Love” or nothing, depending on context. I confess that I’ve also started using “Hasta then,” thanks to Alina’s friend Stephen.

  59. If I don’t know the person personally or it’s a more business email, then I sign off with ‘Regards’ and my name. If it’s a friend I use loving, caring sign offs but with an element of humour, such as: ‘loving you bigly!’ or … ‘love you from the heart of my bottom’ – but that last one is only for friends who know me well enough to know I’m laughing as I type it.

  60. Charming post. Although, I have to agree w the commenters who say not to overthink. I use “Sincerely yours” w most people except for my family..they just get my nickname. lol I would like to think that the content of the message is much more important than the sign-off.

  61. It’s like an existential crisis when I try to work out what to put there!

  62. Arianna Editrix

    I’m not sure, but you may be confusing a “tag-line” with a sign off. Regardless, you asked for the best I’d ever seen and here it is: A good friend in the Southwest US worked for a man name Jesus (pronounced HAY-soos) but her sign off was: Quick look busy, Jesus is coming back! Made me howl every time!

  63. Love this article! I was actually talking about sign-offs yesterday with my sister. I struggled with mine forever too and settled on: “Bless you lots” for friends and family and the (oh oh, so cliche) “Warm regards” for business (ugh).
    Bless you lots,
    Easter

  64. Heard this piece on the radio- it was great and totally resonated with me. Definitely following you now. Engaging work!

  65. can i just say that i love that people actually responded about not using sign off? 🙂 sarcasm is an art…

  66. Close friends: last line should be a compliment, apology or thank you depending on circumstances, and then I just leave my initials: -slp. Everyone else gets a “meh” but perfectly unimpeachable “warmly.”

  67. “Ass best,” is now my all-time fave. Although I did have a co-worker who signed off “I APPRECIATE YOU NOW AND ALWAYS, Mindy.” Somehow, the caps took away the appreciative aspect. WIth friends, I tend to concentrate on actions “Hugs,” “Toasting to you,” “Backing away slowly,” “Dancing in anticipation.,” etc.

  68. Aw, I love the idea that you are sitting there, wishing you could sign off with ‘Cheers’.

    As a Brit, I realise now what a privilege it is to be able to say gobsmacked and knackered, without sounding like an utter tosser! Perhaps I shall learn to savour the word pavement in the same way. Thought I fear that lift and lorry are far too prosaic and functional to feel all that special! 🙂

    Professional emails get ‘Best regards’ from me. ‘Regards’ sounds far too cold, but the ‘best’ softens it, at least I hope it does. When I get to know someone better who was initially a work contact, it may become ‘Warm regards’ or ‘All the best’. If I am thanking them for something, then rather logically ‘Thanks’ can make an appearance. Friends get variants on ‘Hugs’ and ‘Love’, tho the sign off may to be more tailored to the recipient. Surreal friends get surreal sign offs, for example.

    Tho, after all is said and done, I may start using ‘Cheers’ for everyone. Cos I can.

    Cheers,

    Dith 🙂

  69. sikolakjengkol

    Reblogged this on Batok kelapa.

  70. This is great! I always say “best” but sometimes that doesn’t work.

  71. Lately it’s been “Warmly,” or “Best” in client emails. Also an occasional “Stay cute” On Blog posts.

  72. Really like this article. Thanks

  73. I get emails from a friend that say ‘pecked off a handheld’. Makes me laugh every time. I say cheers lots, but I think I like Namaste the best.

  74. Now I have to go meditate and ask my “sign off spirit guide” for some help on this one. Love this!! I normally throw our a Warmly, or something like that…. you are inspiring me to do deeper… 🙂

  75. This is great! There’s a lot of truth here.

  76. exweltrustpdk

    Reblogged this on exweltrustpdk and commented:
    I like to learn always.

  77. Reblogged this on hayadlittleworld and commented:
    Hasta Then,

  78. I use MTFBWY for my friends – who most all have similar interests – and Kind Regards for everybody else.
    Oh. It means May The Force Be With You.

  79. I think it should be good luck to everybody much love

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