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Not Sure the Best Way to Sign That Handwritten Card? Here’s Advice for Every Occasion!
Here’s Advice for Every Occasion -
Letter Sign-Offs for Friends: Handwritten How-Tos
Most of us don’t have a problem expressing ourselves when filling out a card. Either we know the person well, or we’re aware of the situation and know what it is we want to say.
So why is it that so many of us struggle to find the perfect ending? The letter closing is often the hardest hurdle to surmount.
It’s human nature. Consider what it’s like to leave a party. You may spend the whole evening chatting easily with friends and newly-met strangers only to suddenly feel social pressure when you need to leave. Thank you letters to customers are often friendly as well, and it can be useful to know how to sign off.
Finalizing a social interaction is often more difficult than initiating one.
With cards as with live conversations, there’s a lot of pressure to finalize your thoughts properly and leave your recipient with the right message. The end of the card is the last thing they’ll read. If we get it wrong, it can feel like we’ve short-circuited the rest of the communication.
At Simply Noted, we’re card-writing specialists. It’s what we do all day, every day. We’ve seen every sort of communication and every way to close them (or check here for great letter openings!)
In this article, we’ll share some of our insights to help out the next time you have to find the perfect letter sign offs for a birthday card, the proper emotional level for a thank you card, or the right words for a written consolation.
Finalizing a social interaction is often more difficult than initiating one.
Consider the Formality of Your Message
Are you filling out a birthday card for a long-time friend or writing to thank a prospective employer for your interview? Completing a cover letter or warm regards to a friend? The level of formality required changes the tenor of your closing.
You wouldn’t sign off to your prospective employer with, “Keep it real, bro!” and it would be odd to close your birthday greeting with, “Respectfully yours”. Before you consider any other factors, judge how formal your message is, and how formal your closing should be to match.
How Well Do You Know the Person?
This can be a good meter stick to rate the level of formality you’re dealing with. If the person is a close friend, a family member, or someone that you’ve known a long time and share a strong rapport with you can go with a casual to highly casual close.
One the other hand, if you’ve only recently met the person, or don’t really know them at all, it can be prudent to choose something more formal. Particularly if there could be consequences for choosing the wrong sentiment. Sending a farewell message to a coworker might be different than sending one to a friend.
Formal is always acceptable, even if it can come off as a bit stuffy in the wrong context. A closing that’s inappropriately casual can offend or shut down the recipient. If it's a team thank you, consider the recipient's relationship with the group.
What’s the Card’s Emotional Context?
Are you writing because of a happy occasion or a sad one? Was your message joyful and fun, or serious and weighty? Are you thanking them for their hospitality or for a client referral? What’s the emotion you’re looking to leave your reader with?
In general, your closing should match the overall emotional tenor of your message. Something bright and shiny is appropriate for messages that are happy throughout. Something more formal and emotionally neutral is better when the context of the communication is serious or somber.
But consider a condolence card. The emotional context is fairly mournful, but that isn’t necessarily the emotion you want to close with. You may in fact want to leave your reader with a hopeful feeling, or the knowledge that they’re cared for. In this case, your closing should match your desired emotional exit.
Is the Card for Business or Pleasure?
This one is fairly obvious, but it bears pointing out. Business communications should always default to a formal closing unless you're writing to a longstanding business associate that you know well. Any sort of business correspondence would qualify.
Personal cards are more likely to be sent to people you know well, which means casual endings can be appropriate. Personal letters qualify, while a business letter wouldn't make the cut. But of course, you need to consider your answers to the first two questions before making a final determination.
Formal Closings for Professional Settings
If you’ve determined that your recipient requires a formal signoff there are a number of ways you can approach your chosen letter closings.
For professional contacts that you don't know at all, and don't want to influence with any sort of emotional baggage you should choose something respectful and neutral. Cover letters are a good example. “Respectfully yours”, “Sincerely”, and “With respect” are all excellent choices to end a letter.
If the context is professional but you feel a touch of warmth is in order, you can opt for something restrained but positive like, “Best regards”, “With kind regards”, “With thanks”, or “With great appreciation”.
When your recipient is someone you know well, but the context is still a professional one, it’s appropriate to choose ways to end a letter that are friendly and warm, but not overly casual. Acceptable signoffs include, “Warmly yours”, “Wishing you well, “Best wishes”, “Sincerely yours”, and “Cordially”.
Empathetic Sign Offs for Emotionally Difficult Messages
There are a number of closings that work well when dealing with difficult emotions. In these cases, it’s important to identify the emotional chord you’re hoping to strike when closing your thoughts.
If you’re trying to be supportive and are ending a letter with love, you can use closings like, “Thinking of you”, “With loving thoughts”, “Wishing you peace”, Hope this helps”, or “With warm support”.
If instead, you’d like to inspire hope for your recipient you could try, “Toward better days”, “To happiness ahead”, “Hopeful wishes”, or “Wishing you all the best”.
Casual Closings for General Acquaintances
When the tone of your letter is casual but you don’t have an established rapport with the recipient, you’re looking for a close that’s upbeat and friendly, but not overly familiar. Here's how to sign a card without saying love. Imagine phrases you might use for an email sign-off. Good examples include:
- Sincerely (a close that’s both casual and formal, depending on the context)
- My best
- Take care
- Be well
- Warm wishes
- All the best
- Many thanks
Casual Closings for Close Friends and Family
Thank you letter closings for family and friends are more casual. This is how to finish a birthday card or other card for close friends. Try these on for size.
- Talk soon!
- Talk to you later!
- All my love
- With affection
- Lots of love
- Yours truly
- Hugs and kisses
When in Doubt Go With What You Know
We’ll close this post with a final thought.
When it’s not clear how best to close a card, go with the old standby, “Sincerely”. It’s equally at home in professional and casual settings and can work for emotionally-charged missives as well. It carries just enough warmth to be effective without being emotional. And of course, always add a handwritten signature.
You simply can’t go wrong.
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