A closing for a business letter is a relatively easy part of writing professional correspondence. The hardest part isn’t writing the actual closing, but in choosing the right one for your recipient. When you choose your closing for a business letter it is important to pay careful attention to what you say. You want to be respectful and cordial, but at the same time you do not want to cross boundaries.
In addition, since the closing is the final section of your letter, you want to be sure to leave off on a positive note and leave a favorable impression. To do this, you want to consider your relationship with the recipient and how formal your letter is.
Generally, a business letter contains what’s called a complimentary closing phrase and the author’s name and title. There are a few other optional sections to consider such as reference initials, attachments or enclosures and copied recipients.
Here are a few tips to consider when choosing how to write a closing for a business letter:
Complimentary Closing Phrase
The complimentary closing phrase is the parting phrase an author chooses to wrap up a letter. This final sentiment is traditionally listed two spaces below the last line of the final paragraph and is usually a short phrase which is followed by a comma. There are essentially two types of closing phrases – formal and personal. The formal type is basically self-descriptive, you want to select something that is not overly-friendly or personal, and shows respect. The personal closing phrase can be more friendly and casual.
Formal or Informal?
As you choose the kind of business letter you want to write, consider who it is you are writing to. Is your relationship close, or do you barely know the business associate? Perhaps you’ve never met. If it is one of the latter two relationships, you’ll want to go with formal. Next ask yourself if you know the recipient well enough to call one another by first names. If you’ve done business plenty of times in the past and just need to verify, clarify or secure a business deal, you are likely to get away with a more friendly parting comment.
Examples of Closing Phrases
For formal letters it is appropriate to end your letter with phrases such as “Very truly yours”, “Respectfully yours, or the popular “Sincerely yours”. Business letters that are more casual or personal in nature can end with a phrase such as “Regards”, “Cordially”, “Best wishes”, “Best”, “Be well”, “All the best” or “Kind regards”. These phrases illustrate a level of familiarity and are appropriate if you are well-known with to your recipient.
Whatever type of phrase you choose, it is important to capitalize only the first letter in the complimentary close and if there are any other subsequent words, use lower case, then follow the phrase with a comma. If the letter is printed to be mailed, leave enough space (typically three spaces is the norm) in to allow a signature and then type your name and title; you can also place your department if it is appropriate or needed.
Traditionally, when businesses letters were typed, a secretary was the one who prepared the business letter, but this isn’t always the case nowadays since things have gone electronic. However, if you are typing a letter for someone else, you should add reference initials after the name and title. These are double spaced after the name and title and are aligned on the left hand side of the letter. Reference initials include the author and the typist’s initials (i.e. GL:sg).
Additionally if any enclosures or attachments are accompanying the letter, underneath the reference initials (or in place of them) the word “enclosure”, “encl.”, “attachment” or “attach.” should be noted. Underneath this notation would include any copied recipients (i.e. cc: John Smith, Vice President of Operations).
Since the closing is the last words your recipient will see, a poorly received closing will leave a negative impression, and this could quickly diminish the effectiveness of your letter or detract the recipient away from the message completely. Choose your closing well and you will leave your recipient with a positive and favorable feeling.
Leigh has been writing on the web since 2007. She has a high interest in business, tech, higher education, and Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia travel, but loves to write about a variety of topics. In addition to writing on Writedge, she also runs a blog about the Washington DC Metro Area and a photography blog Photos by Leigh Goessl.