Last week I was teaching Better Business Writing when a project manager showed me an email he had written to his boss. The message ended with this complimentary close:
Thank you for the opportunity to attend,
That is not a complimentary close. It's a sentence.
Closes are getting out of hand because people have pushed "Thanks" into the close in email. If you want to use "Thanks" as a close (followed by a comma or a period), leave it at that. But when you want to emphasize your appreciation by saying more than that one word (as the project manager did), do it in the body of the message. Consider communicating your appreciation like this:
Thank you for your help.
Thanks for your flexibility!
Thanks again for your interest in the program.
Thanks for considering my request.
Thank you for the opportunity to [fill in the blank].
In quick emails back and forth between coworkers, you don't need complimentary closes, of course. Closes have simply traveled from business letters to business emails. But when you write outside the organization or send a more formal message (akin to a business letter), try one of these to replace "Thanks" as an email close:
All the best,
That last close, "With thanks," comes across as though you mean it--not as though it's your standard signoff in every message.
Have you seen closes that ought to be sentences? Please comment to let us know about email where you work.
Note on September 17: I edited this blog post in response to excellent comments from readers named Mary and Jennifer. The original post implied that the closes listed above were appropriate for internal emails. However, between coworkers, those closes might come across as formal or odd. You want to choose a complimentary close (or a closing sentence) that suits your situation and relationship.