The “Best” Way to Say Goodbye

“Best?”

I have been thinking about something often lately. If I’m honest, it’s something pretty dorky and academic, although as you may have noticed, looking for pemberley supports both of those things. This post has nothing to do with my current or previous research, thesis, or the research of my friends and former colleagues that I am aware of, although if one of you rhetoric folks is reading and would like to speak up about this, I would love it.

For some reason I am endlessly fascinated by e-mail closings. I currently work in an office setting, and sometimes I send out e-mails to various contacts all day. My go-to e-mail closing, instead of sincerely or regards, etc. is “Best.”

Even though I have signed my e-mails with this closing for around 3 years now, I never thought I would adopt “Best” or become so attached to it as quickly as I have. There are unique and interesting ways to sign letters and e-mails, but best is a popular closing in academia. It is short, sweet, and somewhat formal, and has a nod to the closing “All the best,” but with less effort. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here is an example of what I mean by “Best” –

“Best,

[Insert Name]”

I like the closing now, but it has taken me a few years of exposure to warm up to it. I had a professor in undergrad who signed their name with “Best,” but this professor’s name also began with a B, so it was alliterative. However, a couple of years into college, I realized that more and more profs were ending their e-mails this way, and it drove me nuts after a while. I really thought they were all copying my first professor who did it, until I got to grad school. Then I realized that a lot people sign using “Best,” and I began to see the appeal of it in my own e-mails, despite being frustrated that I couldn’t come up with something more creative.

It was after I have re-entered the 9-5 working world, and have continued to sign my e-mails with “Best,” that I have realized not many people outside of the academe sign their e-mails this way. Common closings I see at work include:

No Transition Word:

[end of message text.]

[Insert Name Here]

Formal:

“Sincerely,

[Insert Name Here]”

 “Warmest Regards,

[Insert Name Here]”

Emphatic:

“Thank you!

[Insert Name Here]”

“Cheers!

[Insert Name Here]”

You get the idea. There are various e-mail closings, and people choose their closing for different reasons depending on the e-mail, the message, and the audience. Each closing is a specific rhetorical choice, but I feel like “Best,” more so than other closings, could be considered a rhetorical move that signifies busy but still professional, casual but still fairly traditional, and generally an academic.

I may be reading into this a little too much, but I have yet to get an independent e-mail or first response e-mail in my inbox at work from a non-academic that closes with “Best.” On the other hand, most of the e-mails I receive from other academics – although not all academics sign with the same closing of course -usually do seem to end with “Best.” When I use it, I do feel like I am marking myself as an academic, and that I specifically use it to enter academic conversations. What do you guys think?

Best,

Miss E

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5 comments on “The “Best” Way to Say Goodbye

  1. Erin says:

    Ms. E –

    I, too, use “Best,” to sign my emails. I also use “Cheers,” (without the !) because too many ! just doesn’t work for me.

    I think it’s short for both “all the best” and “best wishes” each of which I also use, on occasion.

    In the working world, the one sign-off that amuses me most is:

    V/R,

    [name]

    which is used by a VP where I work.

    VR? Very respectfully? Very regretfully? Virtually respectful? Visually rhetorical? Very ridiculous?

    • Wow Erin, that is really bizzare- I have no better guesses than the options you came up for, but it does seem like that one requires a bit more explanation than a general closing.I too sometimes use cheers without the exclamation point. Thank you for sharing your expert opinions on the matter though. And welcome:)

  2. Genesea M. Carter says:

    I personally hate “Best.” Especially because it suggests a level of warmth and familiarity — as if these people (also namely academics) care about my best or wish me the best or hope for my best. I think it is a false way to close between people who are solely on a professional, if not solely distant, level.

    I prefer, depending on the situation:

    “Many thanks”

    “Most sincerely”

    or, usually,

    no closing and just my first name.

    • You hate “Best.” What does that do for your daily annoyance levels Genesea? I feel like the number of e-mails I get with “Best” as the closing is in the hundreds per month, and was way higher before I left graduate school. I do appreciate your alternatives as well. Someone also told me recently that they write “yours” as a closing. What do you think of that one?

      • Genesea M. Carter says:

        Okay, so “hate” is probably too strong. I’m a little bit of German, English, Scottish, Irish, and Dutch, so no nonsense runs in my blood. And “best” seems nonsensical. I prefer “Many thanks” because I am (unlike most people in this world) quite thankful that people will courteously respond and, thus, help me out. I do not write “yours” because I do not belong to the people I would write that to. Our closing, I believe, should match the relationship we have with the person. And I do not appreciate false sentiments of “best wishes” or “yours truly” from people who do not give a crap about me and my life. V/R works (although I never use it) because it indicates professionalism but informality. Though when emailing a professor, the student (even if the student is 100 years old) should probably spell it out. What’s the point of being very respectful(ly) if you’re going to be very (in)formally with the V/F? It just does not make sense.

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