Professional letters, whether they are business letters or letters of recommendation, must have a proper closing. The ending of a letter is very important as it can leave a lasting and positive impression on the reader and can also provide them with the essential information they need with respect to the next steps.
Why letter endings are important
A letter should have an overall professional tone, but the ending, in particular, must be clearly written as it is the last thing your reader is likely to read. The level of professionalism you demonstrate at this stage of letter writing will set the tone for any future correspondences with the reader and will also clearly specify the next steps that must be taken.
The quality of your ending can also help you build rapport with your reader. Also, professional letters usually provide important information towards the end. This could include the sender's first and last name, job title, contact information, and other important and relevant details. A good letter should have a strong concluding paragraph and should be signed off with the sender's name and signature.
Types of letters
There are many different types of professional letters that are commonly used. These include letters of interest, business proposals, cover letters, thank you letters, appointment letters, and resignation letters, among others. These letters are written with a purpose in mind and they cannot always use standardized templates or pre-approved texts.
Most people tend to focus on the body of the letter, and while this is one of the most important elements of a letter, the conclusion of your letter should not be neglected . The body of your letter could be quite relevant, precise and polite, but if you don't end your letter in a good note and in the tone you wish to convey, your message may be misunderstood .
Letter writing tips
There are several things that you should consider when ending your letter. These include:
Outlining the next steps for the reader
Professional letters should end with clear and specific information about the next steps, instructions or follow-up. This information should be based on what you want the ideal outcome to be and what actions you want the reader to take based on your letter's contents.
While you may mention these steps in the body of the letter, it is important to reiterate or list them in your concluding paragraph. This is a good idea because it will serve as a recap and will emphasize what you expect the reader to do once they finish reading your letter. There is no need to rewrite what you've written in the body of your letter during the recap. The goal is to briefly summarize your key message without being redundant. An example of a recap sentence would be:
To recap, please follow up with the sales team at your earliest convenience so that they understand the new sales I look forward to receiving your proposal and will respond to your recommendations once I've reviewed them.
What feeling you want to convey
The closing of your letter depends on what you want the reader to feel after reading your letter. If you want them to have a sense of urgency, use of words such as “immediately” or “as soon as possible” in your closing of the letter will be helpful. For example:
- I am confident you understand why this matter needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. I look forward to receiving an update from you soon.
On the other hand, if the goal of the letter is to provide assurance or support, you could end your letter like this:
Thank you for reading my letter. I understand that the information may seem complex, but I am always here to answer any queries or concerns. Please don't hesitate to contact me for more details.”
What information your reader needs
It is important to include your contact information at the end of your letter and any important dates, timelines or any other instructions that the reader needs from you. You can either provide this information in the concluding paragraph or with your signature. For example
Director Marking, Labyrinth Services
Sign off appropriately
How you sign off your letter is also very important and is generally dependent on your target audience. For example, if you are addressing a client or a colleague, you can use "Sincerely", "Best Regards", or "Thank you".
Letter closing examples
Here are a few examples of ways you can conclude your professional letters. Keep in mind that your closing should be based on your audience, and you should consider your relationship with the reader when outlining your letter's conclusion.
Casual closings are generally appropriate for colleagues you are close to or friends. These are people you interact with frequently, and your closing should indicate that you consider them close to you. A few examples of casual closings could be:
- All the best
- Best wishes
- Talk soon
- Best regards
Professional closings should be used with managers, clients, important stakeholders, new professional acquaintances or potential clients or business partners. These are generally people you don't correspond with too frequently. A few examples of professional closings include:
- Yours Sincerely
- Thank you
- Thank you for your time
- With gratitude
Closings for close friends
The type of closings you use in a professional letter is very different from the type you would use with friends, family or relatives. Some of the examples mentioned here are ones that you should use in friendly correspondence but very rarely in a professional letter:
- Lots of love
- Forever yours
- Love always
- With love
Other closing factors to take note of
All professional letters should include the sender's full name, job title, email, company name, phone number, address and company logo. Many businesses use pre-made signatures that are standardized across all employees. This ensures that all correspondence that is conducted on behalf of a company uses a closing that is approved by the management, and that contains all the required information in a professional manner.
An effective conclusion would generally include a call to action. This is an important step because it tells your reader what they need to do next. This serves two purposes:
- It conveys what you want the outcome to be from the information you have provided to the reader.
- It tells the reader what is expected from them and offers them suggestions on how they should proceed. Hence, your closing serves as a guide and encourages your readers to take action but in a manner that they don't feel pushed or pressured.
A professional letter must always have an ending phrase. You want to make sure your letter does not end abruptly, leaving the reader confused. That is why a nice, professional phase before your signature could strengthen the quality of your closing.
Setting the tone
Remember, just because you're using a professional closing does not mean that it cannot seem warm or familiar. There is a nice balance that can be easily achieved by choosing the right words and style. However, if you do not know the individual at all, and if this is your first professional correspondence with them, it is important to keep your closing formal. If you're writing to someone you have known for some time in a professional capacity, you can go with a relatively friendlier, but still formal, closing.
Most correspondence today takes place over email. However, the rules of ending a letter and the style and words you choose in your concluding paragraph should follow the same principles in a business email as they would in a business letter. Also, there are many types of letters that businesses send regularly. It is important to keep them professional and to use a style and tone that would convey positivity, and that would effectively communicate the message that needs to be delivered. For example, if it is a letter for a potential partnership, you would want to use a positive tone throughout the letter.
On the other hand, if it is a warning letter to an employee who has been consistently underperforming, your letter should maintain a professional tone to convey your expectations, but you do not use a tone that would demotivate them completely.