Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What your email sign-off says about you

An email sign-off can be seen as warm, affectionate (or overly affectionate!), cold, a brush-off, or just plain odd.

In July, the Edelman public relations firm's in-house research team conducted an online survey where people could write their own responses to the following questions:

Thinking about business e-mails that you write, which one closing do you typically use before signing your name?

Sincerely: 25 percent
Thank you/Thank you for your time: 20 percent
No sign-off: 17 percent
Thanks/Thanks again/Many thanks: 7 percent
Regards (or some variant): 5 percent
Name/E-mail/Job Title: 3 percent

Thinking about personal e-mails that you write, which one closing do you typically use before signing your name?

Love you/Love & hugs/Hugs: 25 percent
No sign-off: 18 percent
Thanks/Thanks again/Many thanks: 8 percent
Name/E-mail/Job title: 7 percent
Sincerely: 5 percent
Thank you/Thank you for your time: 4 percent

The Washington Post article (reprinted in the Monterey Herald) interviewed many celebrities about their sign-offs. But, even better, the author did an online chat where she addressed reader questions about sign-offs!

Since 1995, Pobox Customer Service has used "Cheers" as its salutation, and many of us have ended up using it on our personal mail, too. Founder (and Commonwealth citizen) Meng Weng Wong was also the company's very first customer service agent, and that little briticism has stuck with us since those days. Here's what she had to say to the readers who inquired about "Cheers":

Portland, Oregon: I think that it was my time living in London, but for me I generally sign off with "Cheers." It tends to bring a chuckle/smile and is appropriate to a colleage and to a friend. Minimizes the likelihood of screwing up. :-)

Cheers! Portland, Oregon

Ruth McCann: Craig Brownstein (PR guy quoted in the article) said "Cheers!" has been rebuffed by some of his clients as being "Too PR-y," so keep that in mind. But otherwise, by virtue of its--well--cheeriness, it's a sterling choice! (Unless you're afraid of being read as an over-eager anglophile. But I mean really, why must we read into everything? Jane Austen, and indeed Lizzy Bennett, would do well here...)


Signing off: I like "Thanks," but I sometimes use "Cheers," if there's nothing in the e-mail that needs thanking. Am I pretentious?

Ruth McCann: When I have a correspondent who's a "Cheers" user, I always wait on my little tenterhooks to see if that person actually says "Cheers" in person. And sometimes... they do! So I know it's genuine. But man, "Cheers" is an awkward word to say in person. I mean, it just sounds odd. Try it. Someone hands you a sandwich, and you say "Cheers!" Just like... Ron Weasley!

If it's at all comforting, none of my myriad sources said they found "Cheers!" pretentious. So sleep easy.

How do you sign your emails? What does your sign-off say to your correspondents? Does Pobox Customer Service remind you of Ron Weasley when you correspond with them?


  1. I sign off as "My Best" followed by my first & last name if I don't know the individual/business at all. I select just my first name if it's someone I know personally and for a long time.

    My goal is to provide a "real human touch with full attention and my best effort regarding their request". Granted, this is for only meaningful e-mail messages that truly require attention & response.

  2. I've been doing a bit of research into sign offs for a project i'm doing at Uni and stumbled upon this article...

    I didn't realise 'Cheers' was a British thing?!??...
    I'm English and have used it for as long as I can remember. I can't really imagine it being an awkward thing to say but I suppose you're comfortable with what you know..

    We even say it to the bus driver when we get off the bus...