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  What is the correct way to sign off a formal letter? The letters page in The Times, for example, contains variations ranging from the conventional “yours faithfully“, through the flowery “I have the honour, Sir, to remain your most obedient servant“ to the minimalist, but frankly baffling, “yours, etc“. What do you advise? Richard Packer, Addlestone
  
  There is considerable variation in signing off letters to newspapers. In The Times on August 22 last year there were 16 letters in the main section. The writers signed off in various ways (the order of frequency is shown): Yours faithfully (9); Yours sincerely (2); I am etc (1); Yours etc (1); Yours truly (1); I am, Sir, your obedient servant (1).
  
  Most of these letter forms are economical with the truth or hypocritical. Some are lies. “I have, Sir, the honour to remain your obedient servant“ is a pompous lie, and obsolescent. Military officers writing to a superior officer and other old-fashioned snobs still use it. I should go for Yours Sincerely to strangers, Yours Faithfully from tradesmen. “Yours“ is cold, dismissive and unimaginative. “Yours ever“ is friendlier. “Yours, as ever“, “Yours, as always“ and “Yours affectionately“, although a little old-fashioned, have charm. “Yours truly“ is stuffy. “Yours Aye“ is tartan tosh. “Luv“ and “Love“ are informal. I hope they are true. “xxx“ is an e-mail sign-off. Though probably not to the Editor.
 
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