Bite-size writing tips: How to sign-off letters and emails

This was drummed into me about a hundred years’ ago and I’ve never forgotten it, but I know it causes lots of people angst when writing letters.

So here’s the general rule of thumb

Dear Sir/Madam = Yours faithfully

Dear Sally/Mr Smith = Yours sincerely

There is some debate around signing off Yours faithfully if it’s the first time you have written to a person (even if you have named them). I think you can’t go far wrong if you stick to the above rule though, as people who are sticklers for this type of thing will probably favour the traditional approach.

Of course, the digital age has put a new spin on this as so much communication is conducted by email, and even this seems outdated with the rise of other social media channels.

Email seems to be a halfway house between traditional letter writing and instant social media communication. It’s not as formal as a letter, but it is an important business communication tool. And because its been around for a relatively short time, we haven’t inherited formal rules about how to sign-off an email.

This puts us in something of a dilemma.Yours faithfully and Yours sincerely look out of place (and in my experience are often used in SPAM emails). Some people like to be more creative, or mysterious and include inspirational quotes or memes as part of their sign-off.

I like to stick with something polite and to the point. Best regards is polite and respectful without being too formal. Kind regards and best wishes are equally inoffensive, though the latter might be over familiar, so tread carefully.

Assuming you want the recipient to get in touch, the most important thing is your call to action which includes your name, contact details and position.

So a straightforward sign-off will lead nicely into this vital information and not draw attention away from it.

Until next time.


Alison is a Freelance Copywriter in Milton Keynes offering a range of services for small and large organisations in MK and across the UK.  For further information visit






Published by MK WORD STUDIO

Freelance Copywriter

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