Best regards and sincerely?

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Anonymous:
Years ago I picked up the use of "Best regards." as a final sentence in a letter followed by "Sincerely," above the signature line. This was used by a professional with whom I worked. I always thought that by saying "best regards", you were wishing the addressee well. Then following it with "sincerely," was to use the customary letter closing before the signature. Now it's been pointed out to me that I should use one or the other but not both. Thoughts?
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AnonymousYears ago I picked up the use of "Best regards." as a final sentence in a letter followed by "Sincerely," above the signature line. This was used by a professional with whom I worked. I always thought that by saying "best regards", you were wishing the addressee well. Then following it with "sincerely," was to use the customary letter closing before the signature. Now it's been pointed out to me that I should use one or the other but not both. Thoughts?
Reply:

Formal Letters:
In former times, the tradition developed in the writing of formal letters that one signed off with the phrase:

Yours Faithfully,
(and then the name of the writer here)

A lot of people today reject this closing phrase, due to the struggle for gender equity. The political standpoint of this rejection is that faithfulness was also a reference to servants, slaves and dogs. So the pride and dignity of the writer counts when we refuse to sign off with: "Yours Faithfully". But this is not a rule - it is just a choice that certain people are prepared to live with.

The choice of many people today is to use "Sincerely" in a formal letter - notice that even "Yours" can be omitted.

In terms of Hierarchy, "Sincerely" is more formal than "Best Regards" and especially if you do not know the identity of the person you are writing to, it is best to use "Sincerely".

If you are writing during a festive season like Christmas - you may replace "Sincerely" with "Best Wishes" or even "Merry Christmas" for example, at the end of your formal letter. Remember that the signing off is a reference to your attitude towards the person that you are addressing - it is also a reference to what kind of person your are. So you have to be clear, sincere and honest about that. That's why "Sincerely" is probably the most preferred.

For an informal letter, you can choose any closing phrase you prefer depending on your relationship to the person you are addressing.

Best Wishes,
Martin
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