Ending with the appropriate sign-off phrase is one of the most important parts of letter writing. Using an inappropriately personal or friendly phrase in a business letter will distract readers from the content of the letter and insult them. Using a formal closing is awkward when writing letters to family or friends. People in certain positions, such as the president, deserve respectful closings. Even e-mail has its own canon of appropriate phrases and ways to sign off.
Business and Professional Letters
Professional letters require a formal ending phrase in order to have the appropriate tone and voice. There are two types of sign-off phrases that can be used in business writing. The first should be used in a letter delivering positive or neutral information. Some examples are: yours truly, respectfully, sincerely, with many thanks, and regards. Letters of sympathy or containing negative news should be ended with phrases such as "with sympathy," "sincerely yours," and "with condolences."
Letters written to family members and friends require friendly, familiar closing phrases. Using inappropriately formal closings will come across as cold or distant to your reader. When writing to friends or family, good closing phrases include: with love, yours, always yours, all my best, thanks, and see you soon. When writing to older family members or friends, increasing the formality of your closing phrase is appropriate. With friends and family it is also OK to close with a time-sensitive closing such as "happy birthday" or "happy holidays."
Letters to People of Importance
Sometimes we write to people we don't know in positions of importance. If you are sending a positive letter to a politician, an ending phrase such as, "your loyal constituent" or "thank you for your work" are appropriate. Negative letters should end with a respectful but neutral phrase, such as sincerely or regards. Letters to celebrities should end in respectful, familiar phrases, such as sincerely yours, or your biggest fan.
The Internet has its own rules and codes of behaviour. When writing a business e-mail, professional e-mail, or e-mail to a celebrity, it should be written and ended just like a formal letter. However, when writing to friends, Internet friends, or strangers online, there are different ways to end e-mails. Instead of sticking to formal phrases, the ending phrase of an e-mail can be anything: "talk to you later," "have a good one," and "seeya" are examples of e-mail closings. Even e-mails written to strangers online can be signed in an informal way without seeming rude.