Career Development

How to End a Letter

August 25, 2020

When you write a formal letter, it is important to end it professionally. You could be writing a thank you letter, a letter of recommendation or an inquiry letter. No matter you need to write, a good ending can leave your reader with a positive impression and provide valuable information about the next steps for following up. In this article, we discuss letter endings and provide tips and examples to help you craft your own.

Why letter endings are important

Whether you are writing a cover letter or an email accepting a job offer, it is important to end your letter clearly and professionally because it is the last thing your audience reads. It sets the tone for future communication, allows you to explain the next steps or instructions and helps build rapport with your reader.

Depending on how you decide to end your letter, it might also provide important information the audience needs, like your first and last name, job title, phone number, company name and more. A typical letter ending consists of a concluding paragraph, signoff and signature with the appropriate contact information.

Letter writing tips

When you end a letter, it is important to maintain a professional tone to show respect to your recipient. Here are some things to consider when deciding how to end a letter:

  • What you want the reader to do next
  • The reader's feelings
  • What information the reader needs
  • Appropriate ways to sign off

What you want the reader to do next

It is common to end a letter with instructions, next steps or follow-up information. Consider what actions you would like the reader to take after reading the letter, and list these at the end. Even if you have explained something in detail in the main body of your letter, it can be helpful to quickly recap the main ideas at the end.

For example, you might say something like, 'To recap, please follow up with the finance team at your convenience to go over our new budget and begin planning for next quarter'. This tells the recipient what you'd like them to do after they've finished reading your letter in its entirety.

The reader's feelings

Taking the time to think about how you want the recipient to feel after reading your letter can help you write an appropriate ending. For example, if you want the reader to have a sense of urgency, you might include words like 'immediately' or 'as quickly as possible' in your final paragraph. However, if you want them to feel supported and at ease, you might end your letter with something like, 'Thank you for taking the time to read my note. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about the new process'.

Ultimately, the tone you use can influence how the reader perceives your letter. This can also impact what they do once they've finished reading it.

What information the reader needs

Be sure to include all necessary contact information, dates, times and other instructions in the ending of your letter. You might include some of this in your concluding paragraph, though your contact information, like your email, phone number and job title, can go below your signature. For example, you might end with, 'All the best, Juan Cortez, juancortez@email.com.au, Product Marketing Manager, Cloud Clearwater'. This information lets the recipient know who sent the letter and how to contact you if they need to reply.

Appropriate ways to sign off

Depending on your audience, select an appropriate closing statement that works well for the reader. For example, if you are writing to a client or colleague, select a professional sign off such as 'Sincerely' or 'Thank you'. This maintains a professional tone and shows that you respect your recipient.

Letter closing examples

Before you write the end of your letter, it's important to determine the type of letter closing you want to use. This ensures that you're writing a closing that best fits the overall tone and style of your letter. To select a closing type, consider your audience and their relationship to you. Here are the most common types of letter closings you can use with examples of each:

Formal, professional closings

When you write a formal letter, choose a reserved ending. These types of closings are good for new contacts, managers or other important stakeholders that you do not speak with often. Before you write your formal closing, consider your relationship with the recipient. If you know the reader, you can be slightly less formal and use some warmth and familiarity in your tone and language. If you do not know the recipient, it is better to write a strictly professional and formal closing.

The most important thing is to use appropriate language to ensure that your reader remembers your letter's message rather than focusing on your choice of ending. Here are some professional closings to consider:

  • Sincerely,
  • Thank you,
  • Thank you for your time,
  • Regards,
  • Yours sincerely,
  • Respectfully,
  • Cordially,
  • With gratitude,

These are the most useful and straightforward letter closings to use in a formal setting. They are appropriate for almost all types of business correspondence and are great ways to close a cover letter or an inquiry letter.

More casual closings

If you're writing to someone you have met or talked to at an earlier date, such as someone you met at a meeting or networking event or someone you had an interview with, it may be appropriate to use a slightly more casual closing that still sounds professional. Here are some examples of this type of closing:

  • Best regards,
  • Yours respectfully,
  • Kind regards,

If you're sending a letter to a friend, close colleague or stakeholder who you communicate with regularly, you can consider a more personal letter closing. These closings are appropriate for professional relationships because they still show respect, but they also show a sense of familiarity. Here are some examples of appropriate closings in this context:

  • Many thanks,
  • Best wishes,
  • Warmly,
  • Talk soon,
  • With gratitude,
  • With appreciation,
  • Best,
  • All the best,

If you're unsure which casual closing to use, reflect on your letter's contents. For example, if you are writing to ask someone for assistance, then it is most appropriate to sign off with 'Many thanks' or 'With gratitude'. Ultimately, you can select a more casual letter closing if you have a connection with the recipient. Be sure to only use one of these examples if it makes sense with the letter's contents.

Closings to reserve for friends

The way you address or close a letter to a friend is even more relaxed than a typical casual letter closing. Here are some examples of closings that you can use to end a personal letter to a friend:

  • Cheers,
  • XOXO,
  • With love,
  • Love,
  • Always,

Keep in mind that these closings have no place in a professional setting, so even if you're writing a business letter to a friend, it's important to select something more professional. This is especially important in case anyone aside from the recipient reads your letter.

How to format a letter ending

Once you have chosen the most appropriate letter closing for your particular circumstances, you need to know how to format it. Follow these steps to format your letter closing correctly:

  1. Decide on a closing. Before you write your closing, it's important to consider the contents of your letter and who the recipient is. This can help you select the most appropriate closing word or phrase.
  2. Capitalise the ending appropriately. Like a standard sentence, capitalise the first word of your closing. If the closing is a single word, such as 'Sincerely', this word needs capitalisation. If your closing has several words, capitalise the first word only and use lowercase for the others.
  3. Follow the ending phrase or sentence with a comma. Your closing also needs proper punctuation. After you've selected a closing word or phrase, add a comma directly after it.
  4. Leave space. If you are sending a physical paper letter, leave four lines of space between the closing and your typed name so that you can add your signature. If you are emailing the letter, you only need to leave one line of space between the closing and your typed name.
  5. Include your name and contact information. To ensure the recipient knows who the letter is from, include your first and last name on its own line. Then, add your contact information on the lines below. For example, you might include your email, job title, company name, phone number, work address, company logo or a short quote that represents you or your company. Many organisations have pre-made signatures with approved information so that you don't have to type it up each time you write a letter.
  6. Sign your name. If you're writing a physical paper letter, sign your name in ink below the letter's closing word or phrase. This helps prove the letter's credibility and lets the reader know that it is officially from you.

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