Copywriter, Human Resources Manager, and Marketing Expert
When it comes to writing a cover letter or other professional correspondence, people pay attention to the introduction and body text, but what about the ending? While a simple “thank you” often works, there are many times when it doesn’t and you may need a backup closing. One of the best closings to consider is regards. So, here are a few things to consider, as well a few variations to try.
What does regards mean?
The word regard has been in the English language since the mid-14th century. Yet, it wasn’t until the later part of the 1700s that it was used as a closing in letters. Regard comes from an Old French word meaning to “take notice of” and was originally used to refer to a consideration or judgement. During the late 14th century, the word was also taken to mean
respect, esteem, favor, kindly feeling which springs from a consideration of estimable qualities”
The modern usage is typically reserved for business and professional correspondence. This is a neutral way to close an email, especially when the writer and recipient don’t have a well-established relationship.
What does best regards mean?
If regards is a good thing to send to a prospect or business contact, best regards must be better, right? Not so fast. As it turns out, there is a difference between the meaning of best regards vs regards. Consequently, their connotations differ in email communications.
While the knee-jerk reaction may be to use best regards, meaning the recipient is held in the highest regard, this closing can come across as too informal for cold prospects or too formal business connections.
It can appropriately be used to end an email or letter with a friend, coworker, or someone you’ve developed a close professional relationship. However, it should NOT be used in a cold email or with someone you do not know.
Building an Email Template: Best Regards vs Regards
When it comes to creating an email signature template, some people choose to include their closing, also known as a sign-off or valediction. This can be a great way to ensure effective correspondence, especially when working from mobile devices. However, it is crucial to pick an appropriate sign-off.
One option is to find a neutral sign-off that works for all recipients. Phrases like best or regards are good options that aren’t overly formal or informal. While they work for just about every audience, they also don’t convey a lot of warmth, friendliness, or personality.
Another popular option is to set different signatures with different sign-off messages for various audiences. This is most commonly done with more familiar, informal closing language being sent to recipients who are on a contact list or in an email address book and a formal valediction for those who are not.
Best Regards Variations
One of the most divisive variations to close an email with is warm regards. The writer is wanting to maintain the respect and professionalism of a simple regards, but with a friendlier, more welcoming tone. While warm regards is seen as somewhere on the formality scale between regards and best regards, many email etiquette experts from Human Resource and Business Admin fields say this closing should be reserved for friends, family, and close associates.
One notable exception to this suggestion is when “warm” connotates physical temperature warmth as in:
I look forward to meeting with you after you return from the holidays. Warm Regards, John Doe
This sign-off is also acceptable for larger-scale communication like marketing emails or even prospecting letters. With these, you’re likely to have situations where people use it ambiguously.
Kind regards is a fitting sign-off for most professional types of correspondence. It is more personable than a simple regards while still maintaining the formality that is typically given up with best regards.
Kind regards can be used in both formal and informal communication. Using a best regards email closing with a person you don’t know can seem too intrusive and aggressive. Meanwhile, kind regards avoids this issue entirely. In fact, in a poll of 8,000 people across the globe, kind regards was chosen as the best professional email sign-off with nearly 40% of the total vote.
Kindly vs kind regard meaning
Kindly was once a popular way to end a piece of correspondence. As time went on, it has fallen far out of favor with professionals in the United States. In fact, many phishing and scam email filters, as well as information security professionals, deem it a “caution word”. At best, email filters treat emails with “kindly” suspiciously. At worst, these email filters remove the email from the inbox, causing the recipient to never receive it. Kind regards eliminates this worry.
4 Options, 1 Sign-Off
There are many different ways to end your email. Each of them come with their own use case and connotations. Here is a summarization of the information above. Use these guidelines to determine which variation is best based on the relationship with the recipient and the situation.
When to use: Regards is both formal and/or informal. To avoid any possibility of offense, this is the best option.
Meaning & usage (modern): While it is a neutral phrase, it can still come off as cold or stoic, especially if there is an established relationship with the recipient.
When to use: Kind regards is both formal and/or informal. Offering kind regards is a good way to “warm up” a simple regards without losing formality.
Meaning & usage (modern): The traditional meaning still holds true. Also remember that using kind instead of kindly is the better option in any valediction.
When to use: Use warm regards in professional settings where the writer is familiar with the recipient or in informal settings.
Meaning & usage: This is the email closing equivalent of a professional hug. If you wouldn’t be comfortable hugging the recipient, it’s likely inappropriate. The exception to this is when winter, cold weather, or holidays, which makes using this option a clever play on words.
When to use: Best regards is both formal and/or informal. However, only use it when the you have a close relationship with the recipient.
Meaning & usage (modern): This closing conveys a sense that the writer knows and sincerely wishes the best for the recipient. If the writer sends a cold email or emails an unfamiliar recipient, then using this makes the writer look insincere.
Finding the best sign-off for letters, emails, and other professional correspondence can be challenging, but choosing the right one can help create a good impression which leads to new personal and professional opportunities.