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What’s Wrong With This Complimentary Close?

Today I received an unsolicited email with this as the close:

Complimentary close

Can you identify what’s wrong with it? Think about what you would change before scrolling down to my ideas.

I’d change several things. But what’s definitely wrong is the capitalization. Only the first word of the complimentary close should be capitalized. It may be hard to accept that capitalization rule since so many people capitalize all the main words in the close. But the style manuals agree–capitalize only the first word of the close. There’s simply no reason to capitalize the others.

What did you think of the combination of “Thanks” and Best regards”? I’d change that too so the sentiments don’t compete for attention. If the writer wants to express gratitude, the thanks can come across more sincerely in a closing sentence such as “Thank you for considering my request.”

If the writer insisted on combining “Thanks” and “Best regards,” I’d do it this way:

With thanks and best regards,

Without the interrupting comma, that close flows better. And it feels more sincere to me. What do you think?

These blog posts also deal with complimentary closes:

With Best Wishes includes a list of closes for letters.

“Thanks” As a Close Has Gone Too Far highlights ways to end emails.

Complimentary Closes That Aren’t discusses text-speak in closes, and it features lots of reader comments.

Do you see strange complimentary closes in the messages you receive? Please share them.

Grammarly approved this blog post. Try it.


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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.

6 comments on “What’s Wrong With This Complimentary Close?”

  • Thanks for stopping by, Ellen, Iris, and Becky.

    Ellen, I agree. That version is too choppy. I like to see “Thanks” in a meaningful sentence.

    Iris, that close is unusual and very old-fashioned. I believe it would have been acceptable 100+ years ago in a formal setting.

    Becky, the reason for “Best regards” is to add a professional close, just as “Warm regards” is a warm professional close. It’s traditional, like the bow on the package or the parmesan on the pasta. By the way, “Best regards” isn’t an oxymoron. Those appear to combine opposites, as in “jumbo shrimp” or “deafening silence.”


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