Complimentary close in business letters

(Using the valediction and closing in business letters)

Table of contents – closing formulas

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Valediction in letters
  2. Valediction in emails
  3. Punctuation when closing a letter
  4. Further explanations

What are the typical closings in English letters?

When closing a letter, there are certain differences between British and American English. Compare:

  • The complimentary closings listed below are typical in British English. It is essential to consider that the valediction must be chosen according to the form of address:
    • “Yours sincerely”
      • This close is correct if the name of the recipient is mentioned in the salutation, for example: ‘Dear Mr Smith, Dear Sally’.
    • “Yours faithfully”
      • This regular close is best if a general form of address and accordingly no name has been specified, for example: ‘Dear Madam, Dear Sirs’.
  • In American English, on the other hand, the subsequent conventional endings may be used with all types of salutations:
    • “Sincerely”
    • “Sincerely yours”
    • “Best regards”
      • Only suitable for salutations that include the name.
    • “Best wishes”
      • Likewise, only if the greeting states the name.
  • For somewhat less formal writing, often for emails, the following closings are frequently utilised:
    • “Kind regards”
    • “Best regards”
    • “Best wishes”

What valedictions are used in emails?

In formal emails, the same (as in business letters above) complimentary closes are generally acceptable. In informal ones, which are often personal emails, the following closing formulas are used. Note that these valedictions are not written in letters:

  • “All the best”
  • “Cheers”
  • “Take care”
  • “Keep in touch”
  • “Warmly”
  • “Best”

What are the particularities regarding punctuation?

Besides, differences also occur between American and British English in terms of punctuation after the valediction:

  • In formal letters drafted in British English, no punctuation mark is placed neither after the salutation nor the complimentary close. In informal letters, however, a comma is adequate if one also follows the greeting:
    • no comma (formal):
      • “Dear Ladies and Gentlemen”“Yours faithfully”
      • “Dear Mr Jameson”“Yours sincerely”
    • with a comma (informal):
      • “Dear John,“All the best,
      • “Dear Melanie,“Best wishes,
  • In American English, a colon or a comma usually accompanies the salutation. For both marks, a comma is then written after the closing:
    • with a comma:
      • “Dear Sirs:“Sincerely,
      • “Dear Mr Smith,“Sincerely yours,
      • “Dear Sandra,“Best regards,

Further explanations referring to the ‘Complimentary close’

The following explanations are related to the topic ‘Complimentary closing / valediction in English business letters’ and might be interesting too: