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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.

Other search spellings: complementary, complimetnary, buisness

Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

17 comments on “Is “Best” a Complimentary Close?”

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.


  • “… 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.



  • 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.


  • 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.

  • 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,

    Nice blog, by the way.

  • Hi, Peter. I agree with you 100 percent.

    My only question is this: What is “post-electronic face time”–particularly in the context of your comment?

    Thanks for sharing your view.



  • 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.”

  • 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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