What is the ideal way to sign an email to someone you’re not madly in love with? This is a question I have often pondered with little resolution. Here are my thoughts on email exit lines:

“Best,” Officious and ubiquitous. Best what? You, the email writer, are the best? I’m guilty of having used it–a long, long time ago–but honestly, “Best” is the worst.

“Best wishes,” My default. It is numbingly vacuous, but at least it answers the question of “best what?”

“Cheers,” This seems friendly and suggests a glass being lifted, yet I’m not a fan. I have long suspected that “Cheers” really means “Scram!”

“Ciao,” Cute and fun, and some people can pull this off–the same people who look good in polkadots and are always up for a game of Twister.

“Regards,” I’m warming to this one, which my CPA uses. It’s like an impartial nod of the head with eye contact. Not a whiff of false bonhomie.

“Sincerely,” This is a holdover from the days of actual letters. OK but a little fusty and quaint for email. Still, much better than “best.”

“xo,” I don’t mind receiving this one, but I rarely write it. I ask myself, “Given the chance, would I hug and kiss this person?” No? Then back to “Best wishes” it is.

“Yours,” I like this and have sometimes imagined affecting a jaunty “Yrs.” However, I worry that “Yours” makes promises it can’t keep. “Yours to the end of time”? Or are we really talking “Yours until a cutie-pie named Ciao comes along”?

“Yours truly,” This is another holdover from bygone days, the birther behind “Yours.” It belongs at the thrift shop among lid-less blenders and VCR tapes. I confess to having used it, but I have also inspected those blenders and read the titles of those tapes.

“Your friend,” I have an old friend who signs off with this one, and I have begun replying in kind. It’s the gentle and courteous closing that generations of schoolchildren were taught to use when writing letters to pen pals of their own age. It’s not right for every email, but it sure is nice when it’s true.