Is “Best” a Complimentary Close?

Since my "With Best Wishes" post on January 21, someone wrote asking "Is it okay to end a professional letter with Best?"

That’s an interesting question. What do you think? So many questions have two answers–one involving our personal preferences and the other looking at what is standard in business writing.

As for my preference regarding best as a complimentary close–I don’t like it. Best what? When we mean "Best wishes" or "Best regards," let’s use the whole phrase. When we mean "Best wishes for your recovery," let’s say so.

In the body of a letter, we may write "Give my best to Mr. Washington." That’s a complete thought whose meaning is "Convey my best wishes to Mr. Washington." But closing a letter with only Best feels incomplete.

Looking at standards in business letter writing, Best isn’t among the standard complimentary closes, although the phrase "Best wishes" is.

Here’s the short answer to the question "Is it okay to end a professional letter with Best?": It’s not the best choice.

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Other search spellings: complementary, complimetnary, buisness

17 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t think the increasingly popular “Regards” as a complimentary close is appropriate in business writing. What happened to good ol’ “Sincerely” and “Yours truly”? “Regards” seems more appropriate for casual non-business correspondence, as it implies regards to the family, spouse, whoever… people not generally connected with the business.

  2. Hi, Liza. “Regards” is becoming more popular. I myself prefer “Best regards”–or “Warm regards” if I have a close working relationship with someone.

    What happened to the good ol’ “Sincerely” and “Yours truly” is that writing evolves. We no longer close with “Anticipating your affirmative response, I remain, Sincerely yours.” Things simply change.

    Thanks for weighing in on “Regards.”

  3. My teacher uses “best” to close informal class e-mails. Even though they’re not professional letters, it still bothers me for some reason. Probably because I have a crush on her and “best” just doesn’t sound very personal or meaningful. I always use “sincerely” because I don’t like to get too creative with the closure.

  4. I am in a military environment and have just recently retired myself from the military. My formal closing for my military emails were always closed with V/R (very respectfully). Now that I am working for the military in a civilian capacity I am no longer comfortable using the standard v/r. Can you suggest some other closures that are being used in the business word? Best regards just doesn’t sound to professional and sincerely and cordially sound old.

  5. I thought I was the only one that was bothered by “best” at the end of an email. Sadly, it appears to be gaining popularity among the educated.

  6. Nadine, I am sorry to have missed your question last year. I have written about suitable closes several times, so I hope you found examples on this site or other places.

    Christine, maybe we should compare “Best” to “I wish you the best,” which does sound thoughtful.

    Lynn

  7. “… the phrase “Best wishes” is [standard]. ”

    What? Where?

    “Best wishes” is a strange thing to say in business. “Best Regards” is quite common.

    There’s no right or wrong, there’s only what is done and what is not. This varies by company, culture, and writer’s personality.

    Best,

    LJ

  8. Hi, LJ. Thanks for sharing your view. I have to disagree, in part.

    Right and wrong do exist in business writing, and they evolve from what is done and not done. For example, “Best Regards” is wrong. “Best regards” is right–because only the first word of the complimentary close is capitalized. That is the way complimentary closes are done.

    You’re right in that when enough people do not follow a rule, the rule changes. Then what has been wrong becomes right.

    This blog is all about what is right and wrong in business writing–or what works and doesn’t work. Thanks for joining the discussion.

    Lynn

  9. I was interviewed over the phone for an opportunity today. I wrote a thank you letter thanking them for their time for our interview.

    The recruiter answered back with an email telling me

    Thank you for your time as well.
    Best wishes.

    Is this a good sign for this opportunity or is it giving me best wishes for my future career search.

  10. Lynn,

    Yes. we do evolve. But even in business correspondence, setting and circumstance count for a lot.

    In ordinary info-swapping, the colon after the salutation has grown scarce, as has “Sincerely” as a close. But if the message is that your lawyer is headed their way with a subpoena, both are more appropriate than something cuddlier.

    On the flip side, one does develop ongoing relationships, and a software engineer that I write to once a week will generally understand that we’re both busy, and that after the first five “Best regards”-es, we can allow that “Best” does the job without slighting anyone, as it would in the case of the teacher above who may have a hundred frequent-contact students to write to. Give him or her a break, and if you luck into more than your share of post-electronic face time, don’t waste it upholding a Victorian standard.

    Best regards,
    Peter

    Nice blog, by the way.

  11. I abhor “best” as a complimentary close. I first encountered it in the academic world, and that’s still where I see it most often. It just sounds detached and snobbish to me. It’s also lazy and meaningless. Why not say “best regards”? I refused to jump on the “best” bandwagon, and have instead borrowed from my English friends, who usually sign off “Cheers.” I like that–it sounds friendly and collegial and I use it on most of my casual or informal emails. In more formal situations, I’ll use the old standard “Sincerely.”

  12. Can you end a letter with
    Wish warm wishes,
    Yours sincerely,

    Togther…..not choosing just one…and would you have a comma after each one?

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