I have been signing off my emails with ‘cheerio’ since long before I arrived in the UK. According to my email archive, I first used ‘cheerio’ on 18 May 2003. I use it to sign off personal email, and at work with people I’ve met or talked to more than a couple of times.
I can’t remember why I started using it. I like ‘cheerio’ a lot. It sounds friendly — a bit cute, a bit cheerful. I imagine myself doing a little wave, as I hit ‘send’.
Two weekends ago, I read an article that said that the email sign off ‘cheers’ is too casual.
Then ‘cheerio’ must be even more so. I’ve always supposed some people think it’s overly cute but I never worried about it until now. (The article also said that ‘cheers’ is faux British, which is a criticism we here can ignore.)
So I started thinking about other email closing options. While I like the balance of formality and friendliness in ‘best’, I can’t use it because I have a thing about grammar. Closing with an adjective is just a bit strange to me.
I use ‘best regards’ for my professional correspondence. It is too formal to replace ‘cheerio’. By that same token, ‘sincerely’, ‘kind regards’, ‘faithfully’ and ‘cordially’ are similarly discounted.
‘Yours’ and ‘warmly’ is too intimate.
No sign off is sometimes too abrupt.
Perhaps my correspondents haven’t noticed, but I haven’t used ‘cheerio’ since 10 August, except for a single slip up on the 17th.
Instead I’ve been rotating, as appropriate, the following pool of closing salutations:
- Nothing — good for short emails as part of a longer discussion
- ‘Thanks’ and ‘thanks again’ — always works for emails in which you ask for a favour
- ‘Hope that helps’ — responding to other people’s emails that end in ‘thanks’.
- ‘See you soon’, ‘talk soon’ — especially when you’re arranging a meeting or follow up call
- ‘Hope the rest of your day is less frantic’ — or some other set of well wishes that reflect a person’s current state
- ‘Hope you’re well’ — good for people you haven’t been in contact with for a while
- ‘Bye’ — this is, of course, quirky because it is so classic so I use it only occasionally
So many options, which were once swept up in the single phrase of ‘cheerio’!
What it means is that I have to spend more time thinking now when I close my email.