The key to writing the best business emails

Perhaps the most dangerous sign-offs are those left to misinterpretation – "with love" or "your servant".

Perhaps the most dangerous sign-offs are those left to misinterpretation – "with love" or "your servant".

Your email sign-off may contain just one or two words, but it can say so much more.

Done well, it's the closer that clinches the deal. Done poorly, it's like a sour aftertaste.

Nailing the right choice of words is not to be underestimated. After the subject and greeting lines, the ending of an email has the highest readership, says Chee Wong, of Expert Messaging Australia.

"Many people skip the body and go straight to the bottom," Wong says.

"In a sense, the ending of the email is where the reader takes his or her final glance before moving onto something else."

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Finding the right email sign-off is all about matching the context of your message, experts say.

"The best sign-off will be one that fits in with the rest of the email," Wong says. "A good tip is to use a sign-off that ties in with the subject line.

"My go to sign-off is 'Best regards' as it is fairly neutral and fits in with most situations. It's great for those times when I don't have time to think."

Popular email endings such as "kind regards", "thanks" and "best", while ubiquitous, are seen as safe and unassuming. Alternatives such as "warm regards" and "cheers" are too personal for business use. While "yours" and "sincerely" are hangovers from letter-writing days of yesteryear.

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Some like to mix it up with more outlandish closing sentiments. There are the wacky one-liners such as "may the force be with you" or "peace out". Even more offputting are those that touch on the more contentious ground of religion, "yours in Christ" or sport, "go Eagles".

But perhaps the most dangerous sign-offs are those left to misinterpretation – "with love" or "your servant".

"As for the least professional sign-offs, I would suggest everyone to be wary of using sign-offs related to sex or politics," Wong says.

"Remembering that it's difficult to convey the tone of a message in written text, a seemingly innocent sign-off like 'my love' can be easily misunderstood if you're emailing a new colleague asking for a first date."

Mindset coach and trainer Kylie Johnson, who specialises in email etiquette, uses "inspiring regards".

"The main activities conducted in my business is to motivate and inspire people to always be a better version of themselves," she says.

"So while the corporate method of 'kind regards' could work in my business, I did decide to go with a more personal approach and use 'inspiring regards'.

"To me, as my business is usually conducted on a one-to-one basis, I believe it is suitable to use as it does not distract away from the mission or vision of the business."

What you thought might have been a professional sign-off may actually be out of touch with contemporary email etiquette.

Below are some common email sign-offs it might be time to review.

Kind regards: A foolproof choice and the most common of email endings.

"It has a neutral feel about it and also is not over sincere and not too corny as some would say," Johnson says.

Warm regards: Not as business-like as "kind regards" and more suited to personal emails.

"Bit too fluffy for professional email and in today's society where branding is important, it can portray the wrong message about the organisation," Johnson says.

Yours sincerely: can be seen to convey the exact opposite of what is intended.

"I have never found this one to be acceptable in a business email as it appears to be more unprofessional as well as somewhat fake," she says.

"Sincerity is about speaking truth about feelings, emotions and usually the context in business emails is regarding professional matters, such wording to end an email could be considered to be a bit over the top."

Cheers: Better to save this one for friends and family.

Thanks: Short and sweet, but only to be used when the sender is actually thanking the recipient for something.

No sign-off: Skipping a sign-off all together is by far the worst way to end an email. It's curt and the reader is likely to think you're either angry or can't be bothered.

"To me, that means the sender is lazy," Wong says.

"Always include your name and appropriate contact details."

Smiley faces: Emoticons are slowly creeping into emails, but they do annoy some readers. Smiley faces are acceptable Wong says – just don't go overboard.

 - SMH

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