It may appear odd to choose an incorrect finish. When writing a personal letter to a family member, using an extremely formal finish is unneeded, just as writing something casual isn't acceptable for a commercial customer. However, when sending a letter on behalf of someone else or to your company's customers, it is appropriate to use a formal end.
There are two types of letters that can be sent with an improper finish: invitation and report. An invitation letter is written by an official of a company or organization who is inviting people to an event such as a party or meeting. Such letters are usually printed on stationery bearing the logo of the company or organization. They are usually short and include details about what will take place at the event. For example, it might say "The annual sales conference will be held in San Francisco from April 25-29 this year." Invitation letters often include instructions about how to respond if you will be attending.
A report letter is written by someone within a company or organization who is informing others about something that has happened or is going to happen. For example, a manager might write a report letter to her superiors after successfully completing a project. These letters are longer than invitation letters and include more information about the subject matter. For example, the manager might mention other projects that are also being worked on by other employees that could use some attention.
When concluding a formal letter, it is critical to express the proper level of respect to the recipient. For example, you may use a different, more conservative complimentary closing for an unknown recipient than you would for a business colleague you know. Your signature and ending should be as professional as possible.
There are two standard ways to end a formal letter: with a formal closing or a casual closing. A formal closing refers to a conclusion that includes both a title and a reference to respect. For example, "Mr." or "Mrs." followed by the recipient's name is considered a formal closing. A casual closing is just a simple statement saying goodbye or wishing someone good luck; for example, "Hope to see you soon" or "Take care."
Formal closings are used in letters that require formality, such as memos, reports, letters that refer to past events, and even some emails. Casual closings are usually sufficient for notes to friends, family members, or coworkers. It's important to note that while a title is appropriate in a formal letter, its use is not required. For example, "Dear Mr. Johnson" is acceptable rather than "Sir" or "Ma'am."
When you finish your letter, pick a letter closure that is relevant to the content of your letter as well as your personal position and relationship with the person to whom you are writing. These include:
Finals: Used when you want to indicate that there is more information forthcoming or an action that needs to be taken by both parties. For example, if you are finishing school exams then you would use a final exam mark.
Periods: Used at the end of letters to indicate that new information will follow in another letter or document. For example, if you are sending someone living in France a magazine then you would use a period rather than a comma at the end of your letter to indicate that there is more material elsewhere in the newsletter that is relevant to them.
Caps: Used at the end of letters to show that what follows is a list of items or instructions. For example, if you are writing to people who live in several countries then you would use a capital "C" at the end of your letter to indicate that there are several countries involved.
Closes: Used at the end of letters to show that what follows is not only one item but a series of items.