Business letter closings are part of a standard format but are subject to several variations. Sometimes called the “complimentary close”, business letter closings vary by geography, type of letter and sometimes relationship of the writer to the recipient. In learning how to write a business letter, pay attention to all three in choosing your close. Your choice can change the tone of your business letter, creating a more or less formal or friendly message. Depending on your standing with the recipient, as well as the part of the world you are both in, this can make a difference in how your message is received.
In the U.K., business letters almost always adhere to long standing tradition and close with Yours faithfully, while in North America and Australia, Yours sincerely is the norm. You’ll also see Yours truly on some letters.
Type of Letter
Formal business letter closings generally use the complete phrase, such as Yours truly, and sometimes it will be amplified to Yours very truly. Letters to professionals of high standing, such as judges or senior government officials, may close with Respectfully. In diplomatic circles, business letter closings can be quite elaborate and unusual, e.g. Your obedient servant!
When writer and recipient know each other well, more casual closings are acceptable in North America and Australia, and sometimes even in the U.K. Popular choices include Best Regards, Regards, Cordially.
In all variations of business letter closings, the first letter of the first word is capitalized, but the second is not, e.g. Yours sincerely, not Yours Sincerely.