If you are wondering how to write a cover letter or you already have a cover letter but you are agonizing over the wording and tone of your job application then sooner or later you may stumble over this little problem: how do you know whether to use sincerely or faithfully in the UK?
Yours sincerely and Yours faithfully are both traditional ways to end a letter. Letter writing over the years has been an art form and signing off has a long history with conventions attached to it. When you sign off a letter at the end, phrases such as Yours sincerely are known as valedictions. Take a look at these examples :
- Yours truly
- Kind regards
- Yours hopefully
For our American readers there is little fuss over the sincerely/faithfully question because there it is common to use sincerely and not muddle things by adding faithfully to the equation.
But for the rest of us the question arises about how to sign off a letter and make sure that we are using the correct valediction.
Here is how we do it (and how to remember which one to use: faithfully or sincerely).
This is used if you know the person’s name (perhaps the job advertisement has told you to send letters to a Mr J. Fox). You know their name so you will be addressing the letter to them and signing off Yours sincerely.
This is used where you do not know the name of the person to whom you are sending the letter. You may have seen a job advertised but you have not been given a name to address your cover letter to. You may start your letter, Dear Sir or Madam and end it with Yours Faithfully.
Sincerely or faithfully: How Do I Remember Which One To Use?
This is how I remember it: if you are writing a letter to someone and you do not know their name you are writing to them blindly and you must have blind faith that they will reply and be helpful. With this faith in mind you must use faithfully.
If you know the name of the person you are writing to then you are in a stronger position to be sincere in your letter to them: use sincerely
Sincerely or faithfully: another way to remember which one to use.
Many people remember it like this:
Never use Sir with Sincerely
So if you open with Dear Sir or Madam you will never end with sincerely; you will use faithfully.
Remember that a covering email is usually a little less formal and frequently uses less stuffy ways to sign off ; you may use lighter language to sign off such as Regards.
Perhaps you have your own ways of remembering valedictions. Leave your own ideas in the comments section.