How to begin and end your emails

Not sure which type of salutation or sign-off to employ in your emails? Here are some suggestions.


While it may seem like just a simple hello or goodbye, email salutations say something about you and your company. Given that they constitute your first and last digital impression, they should not be taken for granted, dismissed, or trivialized.

So what is the right way to begin or end a simple business correspondence in the digital age? Let’s take a look:

Salutation

In the rush to move business along, don’t forget the greeting in your email—otherwise, you might come off as rude or brusque. If you wouldn’t say, “Hey there” to your boss or client, don’t do it in your email. At our firm, we like a simple, “Hi, Mary,” or an old fashioned “Dear Jeff.”

For a more professional approach to a group, “Good morning,” or “Greetings” can help strike the balance between too colloquial and too formal.

In my experience, there’s not usually a need to continue adding the greeting if you’re in an email conversation, but circumstances vary. In a negotiation or sensitive conversation in which you’re trying to reach agreement, a formal greeting, or a “thank you for your response” may be appropriate for every exchange.

Cultural norms matter here, too. For example, we work with a Japan-based client, and our emails to them reflect a higher degree of formality than with other client partners.

Goodbye

Some people put a signoff in their email signature to save time. This is fine, yet it can be inappropriate to the circumstances—ever get an argumentative note with “Best wishes” embedded in the signature?

Generally, it’s safe to go with “Kind regards” or “Sincerely.” Although “Cheers” is trendy, and the phrase “XO” has emerged as an “ingenious adaptation to that pressure not to be too bossy, too assertive,” according to Marketplace, try to avoid sounding too casual or flip when closing an email. Also, avoid signatures that are too whimsical, like, “After all is said and done, more is said than done” or “It’s been swell, but the swelling’s gone down.” (Yes, these are actual signoffs.)

Have any creative ways to tie up professional conversations? Leave them in the comments sections below.

Cliff Maroney is an account coordinator at Crenshaw Communications. This story first appeared on the firm’s blog, PR Fish Bowl.

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