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Signing Off

Is it just me or are e-mail closings getting out of hand? The days when one could close an e-mail with a simple “thanks” and be done are long gone. These days everyone wants to create their own unique closing, as if to show the recipient “hey, I’m different, I have my own personal style, I can come up with another word for sincerely”. Since this appears to be a trend with some shelf life, I’ve decided to break down the most common e-mail closings into easy-to-understand meanings, so that we can each have a clear understanding of the basic terms.

Best
Short for “all my best”, this closing is used presumably because the sender is too busy to write out the longer version. Yet, I can’t help but feel that the senders themselves aren’t e-mailing me, but rather that they’re dictating via phone to their butler, while sipping on martinis between rounds at the country club. You must make $250K or greater to use “best”.

Later
Receiving an e-mail with the closing “later” probably results in more mental procrastination than any other closing I receive. It immediately brings back memories of high school parties, particularly closing time, when the guys would say bye to each other with a round of “laters”, which could be roughly translated into… “you’re a pretty good friend, but please don’t think I care enough about you to actually chat about the next time we’re going to see each other, so I’ll just say ‘later’ and that should cover it.” It means roughly the same thing in its e-mail version.

Toodles
and all its permutations: Toodleloo, Toodleloo Tub of Goo, Toad the Wet Sprocket (ok, I’m starting to make these up).
Don’t use unless you’re either under 9 or over 65 years old.

Regards
“Regards” is a professional closing that has crept recently into our personal communications. But I have some questions for those who send their regards. What exactly do you mean by regards? Do you hold the person you’re writing to in high regard? Or are you just giving them your regards? And what does it mean, anyway, to give someone regards? And why are you assuming that I want your regards? And if I do want your regards, do you expect me to give you my regards next time I e-mail you? I might not be as loose with my regards as you appear to be with yours. And assuming I gave you my regards, are you then going to give me your regards back? To me, sending regards initiates a vicious cycle that I would just as soon avoid.

From
Are you kidding me? What…are you writing to Santa?

Cheers
There is one simple rule for the Cheers closing: Use only if you’re British. Period.
Never an exception: You just got back from Europe and you’re trying to impress your less cultured American friends. We all went through that stage…seven years ago…move on.
Note, similar rules apply to Ciao, Gracias, and G’day.

Thanks (Thanks!, Thx, Thank you)
The original. It’s as polite and unassuming as ever. I like it.

Thanks in advance (a spin-off of “thanks”, but used enough to be its own term)
I appreciate your thanking me in advance. However, it will not get me to do what you’re asking me to do any more than I would have done otherwise, so stop trying to manipulate me.

XOXO
Stop slobbering on me, you’re not my grandmother.

Take Care
Gee, thanks…I was going to hop in my car and drive off a bridge, but since you’re so concerned with my well-being, I’ll nix that plan and go grab lunch.

If I have missed any of the basic e-mail closings or if you have a personal favorite that you’d like to add, please shoot me an e-mail at kwolf@mba2004.hbs.edu and, if I get enough, I’ll run them in a future issue.

Thanks in advance,

Keith

February 3, 2003
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