“Thanks” as a Close Has Gone Too Far!

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].

Thank you!

 

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:

Best,

Best regards,

Best wishes,

All the best,

Regards,

Warm regards,

Cheers, [informal]

Ciao, [informal]

Sincerely,

With thanks,

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.

Lynn
Syntax Training  

21 COMMENTS

  1. Ack! Where were you yesterday morning, Lynn? I ended an email to the newsletter team (of all the groups)at my church with “Remember what we prayed for,”.

    It was sincere and casual, but incorrect nevertheless. It seems, where good writing is concerned, we always have something to pray about.

    Best,

    Marlene

  2. Some of your suggestions are fine, but I disagree with others… Best sounds a lot like Thanks and Best Wishes are generally what you say to the groom at a wedding. Most of my emails are to co-workers when I have to ask them to send me a document or perform a task, so saying Thanks seems appropriate for me. Regards and Warm Regards are rather old fashioned don’t you think? Cheers and Ciao sound corny… at least to me. Still looking for a way to sign off on emails, so for now I’ll stick with Thanks. Thanks!

  3. I agree with Mary. I normally agree with your posts but not this one. I don’t see one thing in it that makes me think Thanks is inappropriate or convinces me something else is better. I use Thanks as a close and like it. I do not like Warm Regards or Regards. Both of them feel like an inapproriate greeting. The one person I know who uses Regards isn’t a native English speaker – I always assumed it was some sort of cultural quirk that he used it. And Sincerly? Please, this is business, rarely is someone sincere. And With thanks vs thanks? These are the same to me.

    Generally, I do appreciate people giving me their time in reading e-mails and considering whatever my request is, even if the request is just an implied one to read what I’ve sent for information.

    Thanks!

  4. I also see a conflict with your normal guidance to reduce words to the fewest necessary to convey the point and the advice here to switch from the short, sweet and clear “Thanks” to “Thanks and extra words.”

  5. Mary and Jennifer, thank you for your honest, strong reactions to my suggestions. Reviewing them, I see your points completely, and I will revise the post.

    As people inside an organization, you have experiences that are different from mine. Thanks for sharing them!

    Lynn

  6. “Thanks” itself as a close does not really bother me, but sentences like the one mentioned above do seem silly- I agree that they should just be part of the body of the message.

    This is getting slightly off-topic, but I just need to share that I am saddened by Jennifer’s comment about “Sincerely.”(“Please, this is business, rarely is someone sincere.”) I actually do use “Sincerely” as a close, and I do so because I mean it! Why do we think that business and sincerity must be mutually exclusive?

    Anyway, I think there is room for personal taste in the closes that we all choose. I would not use “Regards”, but I feel it fits for those I know who do use it.

  7. Lisa Marie, thank you for your comment and for that useful jog off topic. I do not use “Sincerely” as a close in email, but I certainly feel sincere!

    Thanks for mentioning personal taste. It’s an important factor in choosing a close.

    Lynn

  8. I had to laugh when I came back to check comments and the post was extremely different from what I remembered reading. I thought “I must have read very quickly and without comprehending. My comment was completely invalid.” Whew. Glad to see you revised it and that I don’t need to schedule a doctor appointment for my failing executive function.

    Lisa Marie: I was a bit flip with my Sincerely comment. There are many people I work with where Sincerely would be believable but, sadly, there are many others where I would roll my eyes and mutter to myself. I’d like to think if we worked together, we would both be able to use “Sincerely” and believe it.

  9. Thanks for your reply, Jennifer! I understand where you are coming from- as much as I want to be an eternally optimistic idealist, there are unfortunately some people who are not so sincere. But I trust that you and I could work together and still be sincere!

  10. Hi Lynn,
    Great site. I love it. I love it so much that I was inspired to do something I almost never do – post this comment and the following questions:

    What do you think of…

    … dropping the “With” in “With many thanks,” so the close reads: “Many thanks,”? How about the punctuation in the previous sentence?

    … my use of the short or “en dash” in the last sentence of the first paragraph?

    … these ellipses? Would a colon then bullets, numbers or “em dashes” (i.e. —) be better? How about simply repeating the words[,] “What do you think of” at each bullet? Should the comma in square brackets (above) be included in this introduction of a quotation?

    Many thanks,

    Adam

  11. Hi, Adam. What a stream of questions! Let’s see how well I sort through them.

    1. To me, “Many thanks” is a statement. I would follow it with a period, or an exclamation point if I wanted to show great enthusiasm. “Many thanks” does not appear in any of my reference books as a complimentary close.

    2. Your “en dash” appears to be a hyphen, which does not suit your sentence. Why not try two hyphens, which would serve as an em dash, or a colon? A colon would work well with your introductory “something I almost never do.”

    3. I do not recommend the use of ellipses to introduce items in a list. As you suggest, a better choice is a colon followed by bullets, numbers, or dashes.

    4. “What do you think of” at the beginning of each point would be clear but repetitive and wordy.

    5. You don’t need the comma before your words within quotation marks. No one said them. You are merely using the quotation marks to indicate which words you are referring to.

    That covers your allotment of questions. Thanks for the challenge!

    Lynn

  12. Thank you for sharing your insights into proper closes for communications. Perhaps as a function of my generation, I have used “Sincerely,” for most of my life. I had read that it was becoming an archaic sign-off, and it was important to me not to appear out of touch with modern life and culture. I am encouraged to hear it is still considered polite and not outdated. Suspecting the motives of those in my workplace may be a blind spot for me. When I sign with sincerely, I too mean it. But “Thanks”? Guilty as charged. Maybe even for the horrifying “Thanks with a bit more words”. “Warm regards” wasn’t mentioned….is this such a pariah that I should completely perish the thought? And finally, congratulations on your treatment of Adam’s query. It seemed as though your credibility was justified as you thoughtfully answered what I interpreted as a test of your knowledge. Thank you for the wonderful dialogue and for the tremendously upbeat site. I enjoyed every bit of it!

    Sincerely,
    Sue

  13. Susan, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I loved hearing from you.

    “Warm regards” is acceptable as a close. It should be reserved for situations in which you have or are building a warm relationship.

    You might be interested in my book, “Business Writing With Heart,” whose appendices include an extended section on today’s greetings and complimentary closes. It is available on my site at http://syntaxtraining.com/heart.html and through other booksellers.

    If you don’t already receive my free monthly newsletter, “Better Writing at Work,” you can subscribe here: http://syntaxtraining.com/signup.html

    Best regards,

    Lynn

  14. I also see a conflict with your normal guidance to reduce words to the fewest necessary to convey the point and the advice here to switch from the short, sweet and clear “Thanks” to “Thanks and extra words.”

  15. Good observation. The point I wanted to make is that sentences such as “Thank you for the opportunity to attend” are not complimentary closes. They are closing sentences.

    “Thanks” is fine on its own as a quick close, just the way you might say “Thanks” as you leave someone’s office.

    Lynn

  16. Update:

    Writing ‘Thanks’ at the end of any email is poor etiquette, and form. It comes across as bossy and/or condescending.

    It doesn’t take much to write the longer form, especially when writing to close relationships.

    E.g. Thank you, or better yet – much appreciated.

    Thank you for reading my comments,

    Hospitality Professional

  17. Hi David,

    Thanks for stopping by. I like “Thank you,” but I can’t recommend the passive “Much appreciated.”

    I’m wondering whether you intentionally used a comma after your closing sentence. The purpose of the blog post was to discourage people from doing that. Did I fail, or are you just kidding me?

    Lynn

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