Sincerely, a better way to end letters and emails

As texting becomes more prevalent, the art of letter writing appears to be disappearing. Fortunately, some people still have opportunities to send letters, even if they do so via email.

When I was teaching a class about writing better business letters, one participant wondered about the best way to end her missives. Is “sincerely” the right choice?

My answer was the one that always draws a groan: it depends. I said the best way to end is to choose a word that matches the situation, formality, and purpose of the letter. For example, I prefer “best wishes,” which is usually too casual for really important letters. If you were writing someone about a legal matter involving the death of a family member, “best wishes” would actually convey a creepy tone.

Writing a friendly letter to a peer or colleague? “Cordially” still has a nice sound. “Very truly yours” is probably a bit too romantic for anything but deeply personal communication. “Yours” is a nice all-around choice. When all else fails, go ahead and trot out “sincerely,” unless your letter is anything but sincere.

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