One of the most difficult aspects of correspondence is in knowing how to end a letter appropriately. For many of us, it takes almost as long to end the letter as it did to write the whole thing, even if it is more than a page long! While there are formal rules of writing, there are also enough variations and exceptions to those rules that it makes the mind spin.
Closing With the Right Tone
Some letters necessarily need to follow the formal rules of writing, while others fall into a ‘grey area’ in between formal and casual. In an attempt to close with just the right tone we spend altogether too much time trying to think of an appropriate closing. Whether it is a business letter, a thank you letter, correspondence with an acquaintance or a letter of introduction, there are some general guidelines that can be of assistance to make the task a bit easier.
Why the Concluding Paragraph Is Important
Unless you are writing to a loved one who you know will hang on every word you write, chances are the recipient will only truly read your first and last paragraph with any amount of attention. Test this theory out sometime! The next time you receive correspondence in the mail from anyone but a friend or family member, see if you don’t read the first paragraph to see why the person or business is contacting you and then immediately find yourself jumping to the end to see if there are any actions you need to take.
Placing Emphasis on the Concluding Paragraph
This happens more often than not so take the time to briefly reiterate the most important points you have just detailed with a special emphasis on a ‘call to action’ if necessary. If you require a response, a payment, or the recipient’s attendance at some event or meeting, this would be the place to make that clear. Now it’s time to think about how to end a letter. Of course if you are writing to a friend or a loved one, you already know what your closing words will be. However, when writing business or professional letters the closing is another matter altogether.
How to End Business Letters
In years gone by it was adequate to simply end a business letter with a simple “Sincerely,” or perhaps “Sincerely Yours,” and that was that. This is no longer the case as it is now acceptable to take into consideration the relationship you have with the recipient, even in business correspondence. Some of the most acceptable closing formats include:
– Yours sincerely,
– Yours respectfully,
– Respectfully yours,
– Yours faithfully,
– Best regards,
– Warm regards,
Again, it depends on the level of your ongoing relationship with the person or business when determining how to end a letter. Yours faithfully, Regards, Best regards, Warm regards, and Cordially are usually reserved for business contacts you have dealt with in the past and would tend towards a ‘semi-formal’ business relationship.
How to End Professional Letters of Gratitude
There are times when you have the need to end the correspondence with gratitude, such as when writing an introductory letter for a resume you would want to thank the recipient for taking the time to consider you for the position and reading your resume. Other times you may be requesting information or the solution to a problem you are having with an item or service. In situations like these, the following are recommended closings:
– Thank you for your kind consideration,
– Thank you for your time and attention,
– Thank you for your time,
– Thank you for your help,
– Thank you for giving this matter your attention,
– Thank you for giving this matter your prompt attention,
– Many thanks,
– In gratitude,
– With many thanks,
As you can see, there are almost infinite variations that can be used, but the key is to express gratitude without seeming overly familiar. For instance, when writing to thank a friend you might simply say “Thanks!” or “Thanks a ton!” However, that tone is inappropriate for a formal business letter so remember to reserve informal closings for personal correspondence.
Apologies and Condolences
While not as common, there may be times when letters of apology or condolences may be required, so setting the closing tone is likewise important. Try to remember to keep the closing formal, yet warm and sincere. A letter of apology should come across as genuine so you may want to end with closings such as:
– I (We) apologize for this inconvenience,
– Please accept my (our) apology,
– With regret,
– Please accept my (our) humble apology,
Business and/or professional condolences should also be heartfelt, yet formal. Perhaps a member of your company or a business contact recently lost a loved one. When closing a letter of condolence the most common closing would simply be “My (Our) deepest sympathies are with you and your loved ones.” You have expressed sincere condolences without seeming overly friendly.
When considering how to close a letter, then, there are just a few things to keep in mind. First, remember to pay special attention to your concluding paragraph in a professional or business letter. Chances are the reader will pay more attention to your opening and closing remarks while merely skimming the rest of the correspondence. Next your closing line should be in keeping with the level of formality, and finally make sure to skip three to four lines before typing your name with your position typed directly under your name. The space allows for your handwritten (or graphic) signature. By keeping these thoughts in mind you should be able to end a letter perfectly each and every time.