MORE THAN once, I’ve experienced writer’s block at the end of an email. Yes, I have a few fall-back phrases (Love, Hugs, or See you soon) for notes to the family and close friends, but other email recipients leave me stumped.
How should I close a letter to a magazine editor, a volunteer coordinator, or the church secretary? Sometimes, the old stand-by (Sincerely) simply falls too stale and flat.
If you’ve ever shared this dilemma, fear not! Famous writers, entertainers, and politicians offer us a wealth of ideas in their published letters. I present to you (tongue-in-cheek, of course) these nifty phrases in five fabulous categories!
1. Rename Yourself
Ask yourself, “Who am I in relation to the reader?” If you’re an adoring fan or a steadfast subscriber, don’t be shy—say so! To get your wheels turning, ponder these samples:
- Your Affectionate Aunt, (Jane Austen)
- Yours truly, (George Bernard Shaw)
- Yours ever, (Margaret Thatcher)
- I trust you will find this reply satisfactory, and remain yours faithfully, (J. R. R. Tolkien)
- I am your fellow man, but not your slave, (Frederick Douglass)
2. The Present Participle
What could leave a better final impression than an active –ing verb? In the following examples, the writer included either a copy of his book or a synopsis of his story (a nail-biting experience for any author!).
If hitting “send” leaves you in agonizing suspense too, consider something like this:
- Hoping that you may like it believe me / Very truly yours, (Sir Henry Rider Haggard)
- Waiting to know your judgment, I am, / Yours very truly and devoted, (Roberto Rossellini)
- And my own variation: Wondering when you’ll write again, (Daniella Dautrich)
3. Prepositional Phrase
The sign-off options are virtually endless when you choose the prepositional phrase. Are you “in a great hurry” or “on top of the world”? Perhaps you’re feeling “beyond grateful” or “down with the flu.” You might even try one of these on for size:
- With the greatest esteem and respect, I am, dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant, (Benjamin Franklin)
- With friendly thanks and best wishes, / Yours, (Albert Einstein)
- With kindest regards, I remain, / Sincerely yours, (Fred Astaire)
4. All about Adverbs
At last, we have discovered the perfect solution to writer’s block: ask your child to make a list of –ly adverbs. Choose one and insert into your letter. Voilà!
These famous figures found a variety of adverbial solutions to letter closings:
- Affectionately your brother, (Abraham Lincoln)
- Respectfully yours, (Jackie Robinson)
- Truly Yours, (Edgar Allan Poe)
- Cordially, (Philip K. Dick)
- Always your friend, (Ernest Hemingway)
- And, my personal favorite: Scientifically yours, (Dr. Bunsen Honeydew PhD Esq.)
5. Short and Sweet
These final selections are tried and true. Note the second-to-last for letters filled with mirth and goodwill, and the last for letters full of annoyance.
- Cheers, (Kurt Vonnegut)
- Regards, (Owen Chamberlain)
- Adieu, adieu, adieu! (Mark Twain)
- All the best, (Dr. Seuss)
- All best otherwise, (Harlan Ellison)
I hope you enjoyed learning about different—and often over-the-top—ways notable figures have signed their letters. If you’re on the hunt for more practical, modern-day letter closings, Chloë Ernst offers many creative suggestions for “proper goodbyes.”
What is your favorite way to sign off?
Daniella Dautrich is a WriteShop alumna and a graduate of Hillsdale College. She and her husband fill their home with books on writing, literature, and computer science. Daniella blogs at www.waterlilywriter.wordpress.com.