How to Effectively Close a Business Letter
Writing business letters correctly isn’t easy. Gathering contact information, titles of personnel, and accurate company addresses can be a pain. Crafting a concise yet compelling introduction followed by a persuasive body of text can be challenging as well. Once that’s finished, it’s tempting to slap a quick conclusion onto the end of the letter, sign it, and throw it into an envelope.
However, taking the time to include an effective closing is a crucial element of every well-written business letter. If you leave your reader with a bad taste in their mouth, you may counteract everything else you painstakingly accomplished in the body of the letter.
If you feel that your business letters lack a convincing finale, this article will help you improve your closing skills and strengthen your final arguments in each and every letter that you write.
Table of Contents
The Basics of a Business Letter Closing
Perhaps the most contradictory thing about a good business letter’s closing is the fact that it’s unnoticeable. A quality closing will naturally summarize, repeat a point, or call the reader to action without the need to call any attention to the closing itself.
A poorly written closing, on the other hand, will attract attention for all of the wrong reasons. It may be too conversational, familiar, or obtrusive in nature; or it may be nonexistent. The complete lack of a closing can leave the reader feeling unsatisfied or confused.
A badly written business letter closing will paint you in a negative light, making you come across as rude, upsetting, insensitive, or even simply uninterested. If the recipient has any of these takeaways at the end of reading a letter, you’re going to hurt your chances of receiving a positive response.
Before looking at a few examples, there are two important points that should be discussed regarding business letter closing basics.
When it comes to business letters, following the standard format is best. Sticking to convention and avoiding individuality within the format allows the reader to understand the point of a business letter quickly and effectively. In general, this format consists of:
- Making sure that your closing is left-aligned.
- Matching your font and spacing to the body of the letter.
- Capitalizing the first letter of the closing, not multiple letters such as “Best Regards.”
- Following the closing phrase with a comma.
- Including four blank lines after the closing phrase and then typing your name.
- Signing your signature in the space between the closing phrase and your typed name.
When it comes to the tone of your letter, common practice dictates that you should be reserved and professional. This is especially true for the first time you contact another person.
Once you begin to establish relationships with other professionals, the tone can soften a bit and you can introduce a sense of familiarity to your closings. However, this should only be done when you’re writing to someone with whom you share a deep professional relationship. A letter written to anyone else should remain in a practical, professional tone.
Business Letter Closing Examples
Whenever you’re writing a business letter to an individual with whom you do not share an intimate professional relationship, try to utilize closing phrases such as:
- Sincerely: This can also be written “Yours sincerely” and is a great way to professionally end a letter with no emotional investment or implications.
- Regards: This indicates a “tip of the hat” mentality and can be changed to “best regards” if the relationship grows in the future.
- Cordially: Once again, slightly warmer in nature, “cordially” indicates a level of warm yet professional respect and works well when writing to someone that you don’t know well.
- Nothing: If you’re at a loss as to what closing phrase to use, sometimes nothing at all is the best option. If it fits the tone of the particular business letter you’re writing, simply sign your name and leave it at that.
If you’re writing to someone that you know well and you wish to convey a warmer ending to your message, consider these closing options:
- Warm regards: This takes the closing “regards” or “best regards” to the next level, directly indicating a sense of warmth and friendship.
- With appreciation: Indicating a sense of appreciation can be an excellent way to respectfully give a nod towards a more intimate professional connection.
- Best wishes: This suggests a positive attitude towards the relationship without wandering from the business letter tone.
Whether you’re writing to someone with whom you share a long-standing professional relationship or an individual you’ve never met before, it’s always wise to consider the context of the letter when choosing your closing phrase. Using “warm regards,” for instance, to sign off on an unexpected resignation letter is probably not the best choice. Consider using “cordially” or “sincerely” instead.
Avoid These Letter Sign-Offs
Whatever the situation, there are certain closing phrases that should never be used in formal business letters. Some obvious candidates include:
- Cheers: The same goes for “Ciao.” Unless you’re English or Italian, avoid this kind of familiarity at all costs.
- Always, Love, or Yours truly: All three of these can come across as very personal and intimate, which is contradictory to the concise, professional tone of a business letter.
- Have a blessed day: Including phrases that are religious in nature can have a negative effect on the reader. They are best left for personal communication.
Regardless of the circumstances or level of comfort, try to stick to the traditional closing phrases whenever possible when writing business letters.
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This post was updated November 11, 2019. It was originally published November 11, 2019.