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This is a very late post, but I came accross this thread and would like to add to it. My husband is an officer in the Navy and I am an attorney. As you said, the abbreviation V/r (and the "r" is generally lowercase although I've seen it both ways) is drawn from military usage. It is very common in Navy email communications. If the sender is junior to the receiver, the proper closing is V/r. If the sender is senior to the receiver, the proper closing is just /r. Also, military emails to civilians often use /r (but you might get a V/r if you're lucky!).

I have read many posts saying this is improper to use in the civilian world. I completely disagree, especially in the context of an ongoing email conversation with parties of different statuses. The example that comes to mind would be attorneys emailing with clients, accountants, secretaries, and the court. I don't think any sign of respect is "inappropriate" these days. V/r is a nice way to say "hey, I acknowledge your position" without sounding too formal. Also, anything beats no closing at all.

I noticed you put the / after the r - I have not seen it that way, but it may not be incorrect.

Would an attorney expect his or her client to know what 'V/r' means?

I'd never heard of it before reading this thread.

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Grammar GeekIf I recall, that would be "Respectfully."
That is correct. For the sea services (U.S Navy and USMC) we typically follow the practice of closing with "very respectfully" to a superior or sometimes a peer (mostly when emailing a person of the same rank that is unfamiliar to you), and "respectfully" to a subordinate or a peer (usually the latter when you are familiar with the person, but sending official correspondence).

I was taught that it is always better to spell both out. However, we abbreviated very respectfully as V/r and respectfully as /r. The use of a lower case 'r' was due to "respectfully" not being capitalized when spelled out as "Very respectfully". There may be some variations among the branches, but during my 11 years the above was consistently used in the manner described.

Hope that helps some.


5 yrs USMC 0311

6 yrs USN HM-8472
For a USAF and joint service perspective (Intel Community and SOCOM), in my 23 years in the Air Force, usage has almost always been "VR" (no slash) for both up and down the chain. While working with some regular Navy, I was surprised to see our O-6 Captain simply use "r", but I suppose that was her privilege (On another note, we USAF enlisted refused to carry her bags, so she got a Navy O-3 to do it!). I did observe that other Navy personnel used "VR" variations as described by Tim above, which was different than the Air Force's nearly strict adherence to just "VR".

I've also noticed that a majority of younger folks in the Air Force use hardly any salutations or closings at all, which really gets my goat. I suppose that's a result of the changing world we live in, with more emphasis on video games and texting and less on education and common courtesy - another of many factors for my retiring this year... Glad to see this site up and running, though! Thanks to everyone who's commented and to the moderators for keeping it up! FYI, I came here to see if "VR" is used in the civilian world, but it looks like maybe not so much!

(Soon to be retired USAF MSgt/Linguist)
Ever since High School, where our motto was "Non ut sibi ministretur, sed ut ministret," I've used "vr" to close informal notes. I continued this practice from 1981, with my first e-mail account on CompuServe, and continue to this day. It may not be as uncommon in the civilian world as some think. vr, msa
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Hi! I teach college English and would like to add a vote in favor of courtesy, even if I must spend a couple of minutes checking the exact meaning of an abbreviation. I don't know many teachers who complain of too much courtesy among their students these days, and I can't remember the last time I wished an email were less polite.

Now, as we see more vets in our classrooms than has been the case in my 20 years of teaching, I sure can't imagine saying, "Hi! Welcome to college. Now along with the rest of your adjustments to civilian life, how about not using the courteous email closing that you learned in the service? Sure, you're dealing with life as an adult student, the usual government bureaucracy, and maybe physical injuries and PTSD... but I can't figure out this military lingo, so cut it out."

If the worst thing that befalls any of us civilians during the course of a day is having to spend less than two minutes online to look up an abbreviation that a former soldier or sailor is using as a sign of respect for us, I think we're doing okay.


J. P.
Some people seem to be suggesting the question is whether we are courteous and write "V/R", or lazy and don't write it. That's not it at all. To people who don't know what it means, "V/R" might actually seem discourteous. In particular, when I hadn't seen that before and looked it up, I felt it was rather disrespectful to put some pointless form-letter abbreviation rather than write out "very respectfully". I'm not suggesting it's harmful to put "V/R", but if we're going to have this conversation at all, the resulting recommendation ought to be to do what's most likely to be obviously courteous, i.e. writing out something clear rather than forcing people to look up something that they may then find mildly insulting.

Of course, the valediction is just convention anyway, and so generally not something that's worth getting annoyed over.
It's not obvious to me who outranks whom in the example you give of "attorneys emailing with clients, accountants, secretaries, and the court." You're an attorney, so you hire an accountant and a secretary, and so you outrank them, I suppose. And I imagine you're deferential to the court. I hope you're also deferential your your clients. (I try to call my attorneys by their first names, but they insist on calling me "Doctor [Smith]".) But I could also see it hard for an attorney to address his or her drunken, teenage, illiterate client as "Sir" and not the other way around.
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Well, my motto is "Good communication is clear communication." And while some Latin expressions may be well-known and commonly understood, referencing "Non ut sibi ministretur, sed ut ministret" without a translation is bad communication at best and arrogant at worst. You need a little empathy here. If you're reasonably sure that your audience will understand a term or abbreviation (Mr. for Mister), go ahead and use it. If they might not, why not be kind and helpful by making it clear? So "VR" (with and without capitalization and slash) is fine if you're in the Navy or other military service where it's well-known, but I think it's bad practice and even rude to use it with an audience that is quite likely NOT to know its meaning.
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