This Is the Worst Way to End an Email, Research Shows

Kali Coleman
·4 mins read

When it comes to sending an email, every word matters. A typo can completely change the meaning of your message and the way you start your email and how you end it can also strike a certain tone. But the truth is, unfortunately, you may be using a sign-off that is turning people off. According to a recent survey, the worst way to end an email is with the word "love."

At the beginning of 2020, Perkbox Insights, an employee experience platform, conducted a survey of nearly 2,000 people to determine the ultimate dos and don'ts of emailing. The researchers found that more than half of the respondents (57 percent) believed that the worst way to end an email was with the sign-off "love."

Kimberly Smith, marketing manager of Clarify Capital who oversees email marketing strategy, says this sign-off tends to "rub recipients the wrong way." "The problem with this ending is that it implies a level of intimacy that is unlikely to be true, in most situations," she says. "We tend to use the word 'love' sparingly and most often only with significant others, family, and close friends. When someone more removed from our personal lives uses this term, it feels invasive and inappropriate."

In a work setting, bad email etiquette is likely to do more than just have your colleagues and higher-ups cringe or roll their eyes when they receive an email from you. In fact, Jill Sammak, founder of Jill Sammak Coach and Consulting, says inappropriate language in an email has the ability "impede an employee's ability to advance," as a leader may perceive them as unprofessional as a result.

Smith says it's best to "dress up" your email, rather than dress it down. You should always "aim to be professional and keep things formal," unless you have a surefire close relationship with your recipient and know that they would prefer more casual messaging.

So, what should you use to close out your emails instead of "love"? According to the Perkbox survey, more than two-thirds of the respondents (69 percent) said they think the best way to close out an email is with the phrase "kind regards." Otherwise, 46 percent said they liked "thanks" or "thanks again" as an email ending. Just "regards" was favored by 31 percent, "thanks in advance" by 21 percent, and "best wishes" by 20 percent.

Also, you should know that "love" wasn't the only email sign-off survey respondents found off-putting. For more words to avoid at the end of your email, read on. And for more communication tips, check out This Is the Most Annoying Text You're Sending All the Time.

1

No sign-off

Cropped shot of a young designer working late on a laptop in an office
Cropped shot of a young designer working late on a laptop in an office

While you want to avoid sending an email with a bad sign-off, you should at least write something. Right behind "love," 44 percent of respondents from the Perkbox survey said using no sign-off was the worst way to close an email.

"Not ending with a sign-off can seem rude and disrespectful to the recipient," says Kevin Lee, chief executive officer of Journey Pure. "This can indicate that you feel entitled, especially if you're asking a question or for someone's help." And for more instances when choosing your words matters, check out This Is the One Word You Should Never Say When Apologizing.

2

"Warmly"

Smiling businesswoman sitting in the living room and working on her laptop computer.
Smiling businesswoman sitting in the living room and working on her laptop computer.

Out of the Perkbox survey respondents, 31 percent said they would rather people not use "warmly" as an email sign-off. Smith says people tend to perceive it similarly to "love", noting it could "imply a level of intimacy that has not been earned," which can be seen as inappropriate and off-putting.

3

"Cheers"

Young man sitting at the desk, doing an IT work or just casually browsing the web, checking e-mail, using social networks. He is having a cup of coffee, sitting in the living room of his Los Angeles loft apartment.
Young man sitting at the desk, doing an IT work or just casually browsing the web, checking e-mail, using social networks. He is having a cup of coffee, sitting in the living room of his Los Angeles loft apartment.

If not used in the right context, closings like "cheers" can actually come across as rude or condescending, says Thierry Tremblay, founder and chief executive officer for Kohezion. He says you want to make sure to choose the right words for your email so it "makes your communication clear and concise and leaves no room for interpretation." Many of the Perkbox survey respondents agree, with 26 percent naming "cheers" the worst email sign-off. And for more faux pas to avoid, check out This One Question You Always Ask Can Kill a Conversation, Experts Say.

4

"Yours truly"

Businesswoman using laptop in office
Businesswoman using laptop in office

Tremblay says that a sign-off like "yours truly," on the other hand, makes you sound almost too professional, bordering on outdated. He says this is too formal and old-fashioned to be used in an email, and often makes the sender seem as if they "aren't comfortable using modern formats of communication." Out of the Perkbox survey respondents, 24 percent said "yours truly" is the worst way to end an email. And for more useful content delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter. (We promise not to sign them with "love.")