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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Do you sign emails xoxo?

For the past eight or so years, I've signed almost every email with an xoxo—to female and male friends, to strangers, to colleagues, to accountants, to lawyers, to people who are more or less my bosses. I can't even help myself anymore; it has become totally automatic.

"I’m always afraid that I’m being unprofessional, yet I continue to sign all my e-mails 'xoxo,' " Lena Dunham joked to the New York Times Magazine earlier this year.

A recent Atlantic article examined the phenomenon, which they say is feminizing the workplace: "'I feel like xo has taken on its own kind of life,' says Karli Kasonik, a Washington-based consultant. 'I do it, most women I know do it,' says Asie Mohtarez, a writer and social-media editor, noting that she prefers a single x to the full xo. 'In my field, you almost have to use it,' says Kristin Esposito, a yoga instructor in New York."

Funnily enough, xoxo-ing has become such a habit that I feel kind of mean when I don't include it. "There’s the matter of women’s tonal antennae, which pick up on even the smallest shifts," continues the Atlantic article. "'In e‑mail, ending a command with a period can feel brusque,' says Anne Trubek, a professor of rhetoric at Oberlin College...In Diane Sawyer’s newsroom, staffers say, the anchor uses xo so frequently that its omission can spark panic."

And it's not just for women. My deep-voiced, bearded husband has started picking it up, and my dad's classic sign-off is now a bold "xxOOO." (I think those are bear hugs.)

After all, xoxo doesn't actually mean "kiss" anymore (at least, I'm not planning to kiss my accountant, sweet as he is). It's similar to "how the epistolary greeting Dear changed over time, originally just for addressing loved ones but eventually becoming neutral," says Ben Zimmer, a linguist and lexicologist, in the article.

So, is xoxo unprofessional or a new industry standard? "I refuse to feel any shame for this widespread woman-trait,” Caitlin Moran, the British feminist and author of How to Be a Woman, told the Atlantic. “Statistics show we’re slowly taking over the world, and I’m happy for us to do it one xxx e‑mail at a time.”

What do you think? I'd love to hear... xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo
(Thanks, Courtney)

277 comments:

1 – 200 of 277   Newer›   Newest»
Jessica said...

Oh, wow! I love this! I haven't actually every signed an email or card xoxo unless it was addressed to a significant other. I like the idea of the personal touch it adds though.

Karelys (Beltran) Davis said...

Text messages :) xoxo

Nikki said...

I don't use it because it feels too Gossip Girl-y! I usually put 'xx' one is too little but three is too much love!

Marja said...

I love xoxo as a sign off, and I blame Gossip Girl;)

erin said...

Joanna, I am *positive* that an email from you was the first I received from someone outside my family or very close friends that was signed 'xo.' I thought it was so funny (even strange), and then quickly found an entire blog community that was x-ing and o-ing each other. Admittedly, I'm now a convert (mostly).

Nicole said...

I sign everything to my friends and family with xoxo. always have and always will. its adorable.

Lindsay said...

I sign off

Xx (big + little x)

ha, love this post.

Xx Lindsay

ale norris said...

i have a bad habit of not signing my emails at all! maybe i should work on this.
-ale
(and as i typed that, i realized that i sign off on all of my comments?! that's backwards.)

allie.noel said...

I'm all about it for personal emails! But professionally, I don't think it would fly, at least not in my line of work.

Carly G said...

I think it's weird in the workplace (for mine at least, which is at a university). My former boss used to sign all her emails that way, and people definitely judged it. I do sign my emails to friends and family xoxo, I just wouldn't use it for professional emails.

Maggie said...

I work in finance and think the recipient would think I lost my mind if I ever used XOXO! I do think it comes off as unprofessional, but realize not everyone feels the same way I do. Emailing with my friends is a totally different story though. XOXO all the way in those!

Jessica M. said...

I have an etsy shop & I include a hand written thank you note in every package, I almost always write "xoxo" at the end but I hesitate to add it for packages I'm shipping to men. I don't know how they'll interpret the gesture, so I don't always do it.

I think that will change over time, as I get more confident in my etsy-ness.

Katie said...

Honestly, I find it vastly unprofessional to sign an email with xoxo unless it's a loved one that you would write out "hugs and kisses" to.

I work in a male dominated field and usually leave of with one of the following if I must include a closing:
cheers,
thank you,
regards, (much less often)

In personal emails, I will often leave off with:
~Katie

I feel that this gives my closing a touch of whimsy, while not indicating any physical contact such as xoxo does for me.

robyn said...

Wow...I'm floored by this, actually. I would never use xoxo in a professional setting or with strangers. Although the usage is becoming more widespread, its meaning is still the same...hugs and kisses. I guess it depends on your professional situation but for me this is a big fat NO.

Milan Shimono Lee said...

Makes me think of Gossip Girl! I'm not sure if I've seen that in the tech industry here in the Bay Area. Maybe it's an NY/East Coast thing?

officiallyobsessed.net said...

I like the sentiment, but I'm not sure I could pick any one sign-off that I use for every situation. I put some thought into what sign-off is best for the person and situation, and I would hope that others do too. I fully believe in "women's tonal antennae" (love that!), and to me, that means that I assign a lot of significance to the choice of sign-off.

Typically, if I am in any way asking someone to do something for me, or acknowledging that they did, it's always a "Thanks," or "Thank you," or when I'm really grateful, "Thanks!!!" Otherwise, I like "Best," or "All the best," a lot, and when I want to give some extra oomph to it, I am very fond of "Warmly," -- seeing that in my email makes ME feel all special, so I'm hoping it does so for my email's recipient too! I never have used it, but I have a colleague who does "Cheers," a lot, which always noticeably brightens my day.

Rebeka said...

I work in the legal department at Microsoft and I can't imagine singing a work e-mail to another attorney "xoxo". It seems way too unprofessional, or something. That being said, I can totally see how in other professions and workplaces the xoxo sign off is both acceptable and cute.

Personal e-mails, on the other hand, especially to other women and my boyfriend, are a completely different ballgame. I'm all over the xxoo on my off time.

Ltantawi said...

Sign emails to people who I think need a hug and a kiss, xoxo. Would never xoxo my boss though....

Elizabeth Rue said...

I sign 'Love' to family and friends and 'Best Wishes' to everybody else. I have never received an xoxo e-mail. Once in a blue moon, I sign letters 'xoxo'.

Alison said...

I've never used it...except maybe in a moment of complete sarcasm to a girlfriend....and I can't imagine using it in a work place. I can understand certain professions....female dominant...but still, my non-profit is 98% women and we still don't do it. Maybe my coworkers are too old? Maybe it's regional....not that I like to point to that...because there are enough people who think we're backwards in the midwest as it is!

kathryngb said...

I'm not on board. I use it, but only with my fiance and my mom. I can't separate it from "hugs and kisses." I use "xx" with my girl friends, and "Best" with everyone else. I'd be so weirded out if someone in my professional sphere xo-ed me!

Caroline, No. said...

Don't think anyone in the UK uses that - I don't even know what it means!

Megan said...

Only to friends or family, really--although on the flip side, I correspond with a male writer for work occasionally and he signs all of his emails "XOXO." It's always a little jarring (especially since it's coming from a guy that I don't really know all that well), but I kind of like the familiarity of it, too. Anything to bring people together, I say...

Liz said...

I don't know anyone who does this, but it's interesting to think about the way our writing changes over time.

margaux said...

interesting! i like the idea of feminizing the workplace! but hm... i sign-off xxoo, but only for friends and family. i don't have a prob if other people do it, i guess, but it seems somewhat insincere to me if you do it for everyone. i dunno. if i wouldn't kiss and hug them in person, i'm not going to do so in my sign-off!

Caroline, No. said...

ps: i do the xxx but never to colleagues.

Christina said...

I think it's really unprofessional, and childish frankly. Not to hurt anyone's feelings. I think emails that end in "Have a good day" or "Kind Regards" is more suitable.

Joy U said...

I've noticed more and more people signing off with just their names, which seems a bit cold. That said, when I'm writing to people professionally, I use "Kind regards," or "Cheers!" reserving "Xoxo" for my girlfriends. I don't even use it when I write to my parents because I'm not quite sure they'd get it.

Jamie said...

I use xoxo when signing email to family only. I would definitely feel weird if I used it at work, or saw it at work from anyone other than a friend! I didn't realize people used it for anyone they wouldn't ACTUALLY kiss or hug LOL.

Emily said...

I am shocked to hear you write it to everyone! I use it to friends and family only. I would never sign to an account, lawyers, or anyone in a professional field that would never use the saying themselves in a business email. Yoga instructor, I get, but if I were a lawyer or other professional (which I am) receiving an email signed xoxo, I wouldn't take my client seriously.

Meadow said...

I sign emails to my friends/family XOXO, but at work? Hell no. I didn't know that people did that in the office or business. I think it's ok to do it on a personal blog, but in an office environment where I deal w. lawyers and important people all day? Uh... I'd get fired.

bethanne said...

For me, when I sign cards or personal emails it is usually:"bethanne" (my first and middle name, no caps and no space between). If I don't know you well or if it's a work related email, then I use "Thank you" or "Best" followed by my signature. Sometimes in texts or gchats with my girlfriends, I throw in an occasional xoxo.

Marisa Keris said...

i like just using x and my name. the x is like a signature in itself- i think i remember seeing it in an old movie or cartoon, documents or checks just being signed with x (it meant signature to me). it's also mysterious and kind of like a quick and loving 'k-byyye'. i would never use it in my workplace though. i'm down with the old school 'sincerely' in that case.

x Marisa

Meadow said...

Funny, all the UK people I know sign everything "xx" - kisses. The "o" is just a hug.

Meadow said...

No kidding!

Christine said...

I always use a single x with female friends in emails and texts (more for my very best friends of course). Or at least I used to until moving to the US when I noticed that none of my friends here do it! So I reserve it for my UK friends and family. But maybe it's time to spread the x's to all my friends. Work though, no. Never. I've never had or used xoxo though.

Nicole : Three By Sea said...

I have found myself using it more these past several months. I use it in texts and tweets to friends, blog posts, and maybe even emails. It's become so habitual that I don't notice anymore.

I wonder if the trend is a way to inject some warmth into the succinct, sometimes impersonal feel of texting and tweeting or the digital (i.e., non-handwritten) format of emails. Or as a replacement to the emoticons. I just found myself doing it because many of my friends were signing off that way and I wanted to return the love!

Kerri Lynne said...

"In e‑mail, ending a command with a period can feel brusque..." I couldn't agree with this more! Ending sentences with periods seems so harsh. Whenever I e-mail co-workers, my boss, lawyers, professors for school, etc. I can't help but to throw in exclamation points just so that I don't come off rude or rough sounding. You loose so much tone over the internet that it's hard to translate that you are peppy and happy without smiley faces, xoxo, or exclamation marks. Usually I'll end emails with a chipper "Thanks!" instead of a boring "Thanks," I never really thought of it as becoming a phenomenon but I'm happy to see it's not just me! :)

holtkamp said...

i've never ever used 'xoxo'! i don't dislike it, i've just never thought to write it!

Christine Meyer said...

I've never used it to sign an email, but I remember my mum always signing letters and cards with it when I was a kid. Now I feel like I should start this up!

simone antoniazzi said...

I would never use it in a professional email, ever - it's very unprofessional in my opinion.

I thought it meant "hugs & kisses" ....I don't think I know anyone who uses it actually, it seems a little childish. I generally sign off with a single X at the end of emails to friends and in texts.

Interesting thread!

Melanie said...

I'm totally xoxo. :) xoxo!

ellabella said...

maybe this is something i've put too much thought into, but i actually NEVER use "xoxo" as a sign-off unless i am emailing my very closest frieds. as a woman in the workplace, i feel a lot of pressure to be very "up"-- non-combative, appeasing, non-threatening etc. i dislike prepetuating the idea of myself as a peppy cheerleader for the male sales team, so i actually take out extra exclamation points, for example, if i catch myself using a lot in an effort to seem more agreeable. i sign all my work emails "thank you" and all othe correpondance "best."

sumslay said...

That's funny! I worked for Betsey Johnson around '00, and she signed with XOXO, so I started doing that with friends/family/loved ones, and I still do! With collegues though, I simply sign my name. #keepingitmasculine When filling out Christmas cards, there are two piles. :P

amoscari said...

I have never heard of such a thing. I'm a reporter and would think it very strange if any of my colleagues signed-off with xoxo, except for a few former co-workers I'm close with. I only use it in emails to my boyfriend.

VintageDanielle said...

I only use XOXO when I'm writing emails or comments for my Vintage Danielle blog. If I'm writing for a job or anything else on a more professional level, I use the common 'Sincerely' and when I'm writing to my friends and family, I use 'Love'.

28226678-4940-11e2-8b64-000bcdca4d7a said...

For work, I usually sign "Best" or "Best Regards". Depends on the context of the email though. Sometimes I write "Thank you" or "Have a Good Weekend" if it's a client I know very well.

I only write "Love" for my boyfriend or parents, and <3 for my friends.

I also feel weird writing "Dear" unless it's a personal email so I usually write Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening Mr. So and So, whatever applies.



Shelley said...

It really depends where you work...I could never do that in my work!

I always say it to friends or family though

Gabriella said...

My dad of all people is the first person I noticed who used "xxx" and I adopted it from him years ago. Despite its ubiquity, "xoxo" still feels more personal and a little girlier to me than even "xxx" and I reserve it for family and friends. I use the ever-present "All best" and variations thereof at work, and "Cheers" for anyone straddling the personal/professional line.

Belle on Heels said...

I will sign some e-mails to my girlfriends that way but NEVER EVER EVER at work. So unprofessional. I work in a male-dominated industry and spend most of my day working with other people's wealth, so I don't want them getting an e-mail from me and thinking some flighty sorority girl is handing their money.

To clarify, I don't mean that to be mean or judgemental. Just that if I signed a work e-mail that way, I would get chewed out. And I would be uncomfortable signing any e-mail to a non-friend that way.

caseydsibley.com said...

I never use it unless addressing my boyfriend, ha! When people write it to me, it always catches me off guard. But I ultimately have no problem with it and consider it kinda sweet (especially now that I have grown to learn that they don't REALLY want to hug and kiss me :)

xoxo (<--feels weird!)

Emily Wall said...

Wow, I could NEVER do this at my work! I work at a very prestigious business school, and interact with an extremely international audience via email, as well as old-school faculty and administrators. I actually think my manager would have a feedback conversation with me if she heard I was signing off with "xoxo."

When I'm trying to be more casual, I stick with "Cheers." For all other purposes, I find that "Warm regards," is still nice and welcoming, without being informal.

grey-nyc said...

I would NEVER sign a work email xoxo - totally unprofessional! Women sometimes do not get taken seriously in the workplace, and signing an email xoxo would just add to that.

But for personal emails - of course! Xo or x all the way.

Belle on Heels said...

My thoughts exactly!

elembee.com said...

Fascinating! I never use it — it just feels way too cutesy to me, but I do start all of my emails with "Hi ____!" and end with "Thanks!" or "Thanks so much!" to keep the tone lighter.

Belle on Heels said...

Ditto!

Rachel B.C. said...

I've never seen ANYONE do it in my field. But I've appropriated "xx" from my British friends and use it with them to sign off all the time. I hardly use it with my American friends.

aubry. said...

i didn't start doing it until i started watching gossip girl... and from there, it was almost second nature! i realized all the friends who had been using it in their correspondence with me were also GG fans! it's a thing!

Alison said...

I'm all about the 'Thanks!' My boss signs 'Thanks.' and I'm always like, uuuum.....could you sound more annoyed?

Maybe she is! ;)

Annie said...

I recently moved back to the states from England and while there I got so used to signing every text and email with an x or xx:)

Annie said...

I recently moved back to the states from England and while there I got so used to signing every text and email with an x or xx:)

Allison said...

I've never seen this in a professional setting and a search of my gmail reveals only a few results, mostly from my two closest female friends. I never use xo.

Anna Hoffman said...

I am a big "xx" or "xoxo" signer, but only with friends and family. If I'm friendly with work people outside of the office, then I'll sign with x's in more social correspondence, but I have to agree with some of the commenters that I would look askance at work associates signing emails like that - I'm all for friendliness, and I overuse exclamation points for the purposes of email tone, but I do think that things like that end up undermining our professionalism...

bridget anne said...

i'm on board. my messages always end in either "xoxo" or "cheers." not givin' it up.

Amy said...

Wow, I don't know a single person who signs their emails "xoxo"! I think it's cute, but the thought of sending that to one of my bosses is horrifying. I do still think it means "hugs and kisses", which is fine for friends and family, but I don't think using it for everyone is really as widespread as it may seem in the blog world.

Andrea said...

I have used xoa (with a being my first initial) for 15+ years.

Sarah said...

I use it for personal emails but would be really surprise to get a professional email with that sign off. "Best" is my favorite. I think it is generic, professional and not as distant as "sincerely." I think "cheers" is fine too for professional emails to people you have a warm relationship with.

Katie said...

I had the same thought. This must be an East Coast thing. I have never, ever seen it used as a sign off for a professional email in either Southern or Northern California.

Maybe it's also industry specific? For artists and writers and independent business owners I think there is more leeway in communication methods.

Laura said...

I rarely use xoxo... I had no idea it no longer meant "kisses and hugs," so I only use it with my closest friends. For business, I just sign my name. I think if I ever received an email containing x's and o's from a professional, I would feel confused.

simone antoniazzi said...

I couldn't agree more!

midwest transplant said...

Shocking to read - jaw dropped open. In my industries of consulting and finance, I see thanks, regards, nothing or, maybe, yours, but I would be very surprised and probably uncomfortable to see xoxo. The xo salutation sounds too cutesy and, dare I say it, forward. Working with men, I am very cautious about giving off the wrong impression and xoxo would definitely cross the line. What about clients?! Ewww...

Scout and Rice said...

I only use xo with friends or family... It does feel a tad unprofessional to use it in the workplace or with people I have a business relationship with.

I have a bit of a routine with business emails - the first one is signed off with Regards. The second and subsequent emails are just my initial - 'C'. I feel like it shows I'm making my response a bit more personal.

Overanalyse much?! :D

J. Henderson said...

I've never had someone send me an email with xoxo. Ok for friendly, personal emails but seems completely unprofessional in the workplace. And since when does it NOT mean hugs and kisses? What else COULD it mean?

Claire said...

I'm firmly on team "No" for any correspondence related to work-"Xoxo" feels young to me- I'm one of the younger people in my workplace and constantly trying to battle the perception of being inexperienced so I try to keep things as neutral as possible with "Regards", "WKR", "Best", etc. I work in an industry where our emails are filed and reviewed for documentation's sake- I could never fathom someone auditing my emails years from now with kisses and hugs!

In the same breath- anything goes for notes to friends and family!

17 beats. said...

absolutely not. especially with colleagues or clients.

Barbara said...

Totally unprofessional. I always use Thanks, even when the situation doesn't warrant it.

Chicagojen said...

As a civil engineer this is definitely not something I have seen before! I must say I am shocked!
At work I see most emails signed as "Thank you" many emails signed "Regards" and many more with no closing.
Among friends I sign mine as "love, jen" but most friends do not reciprocate my "love"!! Ha ha! thanks for sharing this, I found it fascinating!

Celeste said...

I always end my emails with "Thanks" for work. I'm not that... emotionally open, I suppose.

But for my girlfriends, I always use "xoxo" to end it, even those who I have a small business with.

Grover said...

I wouldn't dream of using this in a professional email. Even my personal emails or texts I simply sign with my initials.

collette said...

"Why would you kiss your accountant?"

Yes, I think the debate ends there. Haven't seen this since hand-written notes in grade school.

Megan F said...

I'm in the absolutely not camp for professional matters. On the personal side, it feels too contrived or over-used. I very occasionally throw in an "xo!" at the end of emails to close friends whom I miss (because we all live all over the place).

ALLISON said...

Hi Jo-

I work in a very traditional and corporate environment, so there is no way 'xoxo' would be deemed appropriate. The same way you "aren't supposed to hug anyone." In the media/editorial/tech world it's much newer (and generally, consists of a younger workforce) so I feel like it's okay there. In my personal life though, xoxo-ing is a must! I would feel terrible if I left it off an e-mail, sometimes even a text. X, xx, xo, whichever. Also, someone like Lena Dunham can get away with using the xoxo even though she is e-mailing corporate whoever at HBO. I would go so far to say that your average HBO employee is not signing their e-mail to the same executive with that 'xoxo.'
love your blog!

Carla said...

I agree with most others - xoxo DOES still mean kisses and hugs and I use it for people I want to send kisses and hugs to - NOT professional contacts or co-workers. What is the point? From most comments I also think it's clear that the majority of women in the workplace are highly sensitive to NOT being looked at as soft, mushy, over-emotional, willing to accept less pay, willing to take on more work, and overall as less professional than their male counterparts and so would NEVER use this sign off in the workplace.

KT said...

I notice my British and Irish friends sign off: XX

xoxo

J+H @ Beyond The Stoop said...

i've got a serious girl-crush on lena dunham. i mean seriously... when the credits for girls role by and you see that "lena dunham" has got a million production roles in the show you think "hmm.. overachiever, psh", then there's the moment you realize that "lena dunham" is HANNAH!!! mind was blown. she's a rockstar. and i can't help but to have a girl-crush ;)

robyn said...

I'm all for feminizing the workplace but using a cutesy and slang(!) signoff if NOT the way!

brooklynash said...

i think it's highly unprofessional as a woman trying to be respected in a man's industry. i would never use it unless addressing friends i'm emailing with and don't often.

kim said...

I work in an academic/medical setting & have never seen this done professionally. Personally, I would never do this for work/professional emails in my field.

Anne said...

Agree -- if i started signing my emails to law firm partners with XOXO it would be totally inappropriate! when did people start doing this in a professional setting? BIZZARE.

Natalie S. said...

I think we're seeing a real divide here between professions denominated by men vs. professions dominated by women. I had the exact same response as Midwest Transplant and ChicagoJen. This is completely unacceptable and could easily be taken as flirtatious within my professional context. I teach writing at my Tier-1 university and make a point of telling students to always handle emails professionally by closing with something like "Regards" or "Best" and at most "Kind regards" or "Warm regards." I fear for any young person going into the job market or applying to graduate schools with correspondence signed XOXO. It's certainly a stretch to say it is as diluted as "Dear" has become. Furthermore, the article even closes with Moran saying "xxx." Really, xxx? That has entirely different and even more sexualized connotations. Yuck.

Katie said...

Agreed! Although maybe it's appropriate if you don't have a very serious profession. Like maybe it's good for your career if everything you write could be in Seventeen Magazine or something. For me, I think I could get in trouble for writing it in work emails.

mudrick said...

I've never sent or received an email with this sendoff and for sure wouldn't do it to anyone I work with. To me it feels the same as dotting your "i" with a heart.

Carly Martin said...

Here's an interesting article on XOXO in the workplace, from the Levo League, a wonderful young company helping young career women with advice and mentors: http://content.levoleague.com/careerexpert/signing-emails-xoxo-appropriate-for-office/

jamie said...

ugh, not to nitpick, but i don't like the idea that it feminizes the work place. there are as many ways to do that as there are women in the work place. it's frustrating that behaving affectionately is a standard for women. obviously it's a great, lovely, and admiral quality - but not always appropriate depending on the job. if you're leading a company or a lawyer or any other number of things, there are moments, where people (male or female) just need to be assertive or (for lack of another word) ballsy or to just need give a flying fig what people think. putting the standard of being affectionate upon women can limit them and hold them back in some instances.

Shannon said...

I saw this in The Atlantic and was shocked. I work for a non-profit and would never write xo in any work-related correspondence. I would feel extremely weird if someone signed off an e-mail in this fashion. I'm in Philly. Hopefully this trend won't come here.

Liz said...

None of my friends back home in Portland used "xoxo", but here in Amsterdam I've noticed that all my British friends use it to sign everything - emails, texts, facebook messages!

Beth E. said...

Wow. No way. I'm in politics. I had an intern do that once and I called her into my office and scolded her. Sincerely, thanks, regards. Anything else is just really unprofessional. I might say take care if a colleague is upset about something or ill but that is as touchy feely as it gets. I put an xo on the end of emails to my parents and husband but I don't even to that to my friends. Sometimes I sign it love to my parents or husband too.

RC said...

What timing! Just the other day I had the urge to sign off xo to a family member even though I have never used that before. I work at a university so my students always get "Sincerely" from me. Colleagues and others may get "Best" or "Regards" though I'm inclined to adopt "Cheers". And friends and family always get "Love" now, we don't say we love each other enough, I might as well use an e-mail, letter, etc to tell them! (That said I totally over use exclamation points, oops.)

Jill said...

Um...no. I don't think it's appropriate for me in professional emails. I usually sign "Best" or "All the best" or "Thank you" depending on the discussion or recipient.

I'm all for women taking over the world (or at the very least, earning equal wages for equal work!) but I find this to be a little too informal. Not everything has to be kittens and roses.

Lu said...

I noticed the same thing when I was studying in England. Apparently to the British, it isn't whether or not to sign off with "x", but rather how many. I have to say, it certainly put a smile on my face. That being said, I'm not sure I would use it at work.

Megan M-R said...

NEVER. Signing off a professional email with xoxo feels like I'm trying to flirt with the recipient or take the relationship to another level. As a teacher, sending that to a parent or the principal is highly unprofessional and totally creepy. *shudder*

With friends and family, however, Xs and Os all day long.

teeny84 said...

Heavens no. I work in finance and it's just so unprofessional...really for any profession, but I suppose you might have more leeway in the arts or a more creative field.

Erin said...

This would never work in my science/academic field (although I work with probably 80% women). You might replace it in my field, however, with the exclamation mark. It's not whether, as the commenter above said, but how many! ;)

Mary said...

I have not seen this in a work context; I work for a college. I would see it as unprofessional. I occasionally use xoxo or xo with my boyfriend or a few girlfriends. Among my female friends, sometimes I feel it is over-used and can come across as empty and bubbly in a fake way. It's nice to be polite and cheerful to everyone, but it seems like using it with everyone is trying too hard?

Corrie Anne said...

As a teacher, there's really no way I'd sign xoxo - it's just inappropriate. Even the business emails I do related to my home business teaching piano - no way. But I like it and definitely would if I could get away with it! Haha.

Katie said...

Now this would be an interesting topic to discuss: how do women act differenly at work so that we are respected (hopefully) by men? Like always be happy, don't get upset about things, don't get too personal, never, ever cry.

Bethie said...

I recently moved to London and am still trying to figure out when to sign off with "Bethie" or Bethie xx." It seems to affectionate, but kissing (on the cheeks) is much more a part of the culture here than in the states!

fade2blonde said...

As a teacher, being considered as a professional is one of my greatest challenges. Many in the public do not understand that teaching is not free babysitting but actually one of the most important jobs in our society. I have worked hard to be respected by those around me through my work and actions. I would never sign a work or university email with xoxo instead I use Best as my closing thought. I feel it conveys the message that I send my best to the person without any conotation of deeper feelings. I save XOXO for my man only!
Best,
Ashley H.

skim said...

Yes for personal emails. Absolutely not for work/professional emails. Not appropriate in the medical and research field.

AshleyO1 said...

It seems unprofessional to me! I don't judge those who do, but I feel if I do it I will immediately be judged! I usually sign my emails
"Cheers!
Ashley"

Moniblu said...

That is it exactly. While I am pretty cheerful and peppy in person, my email correspondence is informational, not emotional. I work in an industry composed of the male dominated fields of engineering and information technology, I would never want to come off as cutesy or immature, for fear that when I had to bring the hammer down I would seem like Jekyll and Hyde. I also agree that this fem-washing can come across as insincere if applied in every scenario. Sometimes I'm royally pissed-off, I'm certainly not hugging and kissing everyone then.

teeny84 said...

Glad to hear this is being taught. As a hiring manager at a large firm, you wouldn't believe some of the things I've seen in emails sent to me by job candidates. And definitely if anyone sent me an email signed "xoxo" (or any derivative) they would be cut from the pool of candidates.

Working Girl ? said...

This is perfect timing. I designed our holiday cards and had the text include xoxo - ... My husband totally called me on it and I didn't even notice!

Thessaly said...

I would never sign a work email that email! That would totally mortify me, and I don't think I would feel take someone seriously at work if they signed all their emails that way. I don't think their there is anything particularly masculine about following basic work etiquette. And there is nothing particularly feminine about being inappropriate in the workplace. I always stick to sincerely, all the best, or a simple thank you for work purposes.

lauravaughn said...

I like it! I've noticed a lot of people doing this, but none in a work e-mail. I work in a PRETTY conservative law firm, so I'd feel weird signing e-mails to male superiors that way. I'm already very conscious of how young and silly I seem to them so I'm constantly trying to make myself seem more serious and professional. I will start using it in personal e-mails, for sure!

Cheveu said...

Never, ever in a professional context. To me, XO means hugs & kisses, so I would only use it in correspondence to people who I would ... hug and kiss. I work in politics and I would lose all credibility were I ever to close an email this way (now do I want to convey the desire to hug and kiss my colleagues and supervisors). I think it is a cool show of affection to SOs, friends, and family - but seems little girl-y otherwise, and also subtracts from the meaning of actual interpersonal affection to just toss this at the end of any old correspondence. Just my 2 cents!

anniecardi.com said...

My grandmother ALWAYS wrote "xoxoxo" at the bottom of cards and letters. Now that she can't see, my mom signs her mail for her and makes sure to do the xoxoxo. I don't think I'll be able to see it as something to use outside of close family/friends, but I love seeing it.

Rachel said...

Ah, never!

Stacey said...

My male boss does this quite a bit. He's one of the top executives in a large, successful company and I always find it incredibly endearing. He doesn't do it with everyone or on every email, but I've yet to meet someone here who is offended by it or finds it unprofessional.

Love + Marriage said...

My husband signed his emails this way until I told him what it meant! hehe

BookishPenguin said...

I hate this idea. It feels completely unprofessional to me. If someone I worked with signed an email "xoxo" I would be horrified. I also do not use "dear" unless it is someone I am relatively closer to. I don't begin cover letters or business emails with that address; I think it's inappropriate.

I think the only time I ever sign xoxo is on my husband's Valentine's Day cards. lol

darnie said...

To coin a Beatle "Love Is the Answer"

why not
xxooDarnelle

Alice said...

I do sign texts and emails to friends with an x but xoxo is actually a rude word in Spanish (my mother tongue)!

Caroline said...

I agree. I think XOXO is very unprofessional, and I like that my boyfriend is the only person who gets to the special XOXO signature. :)

My professional sign-off is usually:

Best,
-Caroline

But for informal correspondence, I use my initial.

-C

laura said...

I used to work in a tiny office where I had only two other coworkers, both gay men. They signed all their emails that way, and so I started to, because it felt mean not to reciprocate! But now that I'm in a larger, more conservative workplace, I definitely hesitate, since it does seem a little unprofessional (and it's hard enough to be taken seriously as a petite young woman!). I still use it with friends though. :)

Ling Wang said...

I actually only started to sign xoxo when I was exchanging emails with a French friend who would sign his emails "Bises" (kisses in French), which I thought was so sweet and endearing. Now I sign xoxo with all my close friends, but still reserve "regards" or "cheers" for my work emails.

Mademoiselle Michael said...

I don't believe this is an East Coast thing--as the East Coast has the tendency to be the most formal part of the country. I think Katie's point is spot on: this must be industry specific. Chances are, if you aren't wearing a suit to work every day, you might be able to get away with xoxo! I however, would immediately get reprimanded!

And yes, this reminds me of Gossip girl! :)

Sarah said...

Yes, with loved ones, never at work! I work in magazine publishing, and as the youngest
person on the editorial team, I work hard at being taken seriously. So for me, this would
be a BIG no-no. I do think 's a warm way to end big posts though. :)

Robyn said...

My friend (Canadian) and I were talking about this the other day...never would be my answer-it is very Northern American.

Sarah said...

Yes, with loved ones, never at work! I work in magazine publishing, and as the youngest
person on the editorial team, I work hard at being taken seriously. So for me, this would
be a BIG no-no. I do think 's a warm way to end big posts though. :)

Katie said...

So interesting, as always Joanna! I can see how in certain professions it wouldn't fly, but if it works for you, rock on!
I've been in situations where I could see a few people flipping over a xo at the end of a work email (the one that comes to mind, is a woman actually!)! But since then I've moved to Brazil where a kiss is like a handshake and everyone signs off with a kiss! But 9 times out of 10 you would actually kiss them so it's normal. Now just Thank you! seems a little cold to me, especially to Brazilians!
I think some people will need time to adjust but overall I think it's a good thing. I don't buy into anymore this idea of separation between work life and personal life. They are both your life and as long as you aren't hurting anyone I think you should be able to be yourself all day everyday. And let's be honest, is a little xoxo really ruining anyone's day?

xo
Katie

Rachel said...

People overuse the "xoxo" so much- it irks me!

AVY said...

I was going to say something cruel but I won't.

/ Avy
http://MyMotherFuckedMickJagger.blogspot.com



madiebaby said...

I use it all the time with friends and loved ones, but I would never, ever use it professionally, or even with someone I didn't "love". To me it DOES mean kisses and hugs, and just in case it also means that to the person on the other end... no way. I'm a nurse practitioner emailing constantly with surgeons and anesthesiologists... can you imagine???
(Great post, Jo!)

Ellies Wonder said...

Ha, I love this! I sign all my personal emails xoxo. Recently I just signed one like that to a good guy friend. I had to think about it before sending it off. I didn't want him to get the wrong impression (I am married afterall), but I wanted him to know that I was signing in a friendly affectionate way. I am glad to know that other people are signing this way. I may just use it more now.

Ellies Wonder

Isabel said...

omg. xoxo should not be used in a professional setting. gossip girl uses it. let's not act like we're 20-something socialites while at work (unless your job is that of being a 20-something socialite).

Becca - {extra}ordinary wonders said...

Haha! I love this. I never sign my work emails xo, but my personal emails are almost all signed xx.

Aya said...

I never do it in a professional setting but to friends and family I often sign emails with "xx" or "Xa" for "Love, Aya."

simone antoniazzi said...

Maybe it depends on the industry you work in but I've worked in several different fields, always in London (where I am from) and I've never ever seen anyone sign off with this. It's very unprofessional, I can't even imagine it!!

simone antoniazzi said...

Maybe it depends on the industry but I've only ever known one person do it and she was American! I live, work & grew up in London and I've never seen anyone sign off that way, ever!!

simone antoniazzi said...

I think yours might be my favourite reply, my thoughts exactly!!

openid said...

I wouldn't be offended if someone did it - but in the law firm where I work it would definitely be weird! If I want to put a, I'm trying to be friendly, but not creepy signature, I put Cheers!

Happily CF said...

Frankly I think it's right up there with colored clown fonts and "stationery" backgrounds. Don't do it. It is unprofessional and childish. It makes you look like an idiot to any professional on the receiving end.

Ellen de Vries said...

I accidentally added and 'xo' to an email to my new boss out of habit. Awkward.

I always sign emails/Facebook posts/texts to friends with xoxooxoxoxoxoxoxoxo ggggggggggg (gossip girl) to other people it probably looks like I:
a) have a malfunctioning keyboard, or
b) have a malfunctioning mind

Also, as a kid I used to sign my cards to my family with one big 'O' made out of 'o's and a big 'X' made out of x's. Kids have far too much time on their hands...

Kristina said...

I tend to sign off with a simple "Thanks," learned from being a corporate drone. I literally cannot remember the last time I saw an email signed off with "xoxo." I think it depends on what exactly it is that you do - as a blogger/writer/designer, it totally works. In my office people would be soooo confused.

Kristina

Kristina does the Internets

MrsLittleJeans said...

Interesting article and i did not realize that its use was so widespread...I feel better now. Still I don't use it at work, heavens if a male or female professor receives an email from me with xoxo I will be sure to either get fired or consider to have encouraged an affair. : ) I use x and xos with people I know, and I vary them depending on how I feel. : ) You shall receive xx from me today. : )

The Enchanted Doors said...

I had a creepy male lecturer in college who would sign off 'Warm Regards' in every email - it turned me off ever using it myself! I usually use 'Best Regards' for professional emails - I think people like a bit of formality. Saying that, lots of PR people I deal with sign off 'x' and I think it's nice but a little bit strange.

The Enchanted Doors said...

In a totally different context, the use of 'x's is a minefield when it comes to dating - you know you're getting serious when the man eventually signs off his texts with a single, lower-case 'x' -!

Elle Ramirez said...

This is so interesting! When I finished grad school and started working as a teacher here in NYC, I felt that my old email address was too "amateur" and "girly" so I got a completely new email address and started to sign off all of my messages using "best" all for the sake of coming off more mature and respectful. I think if I'd sign off "xo" I'd be looked at as not serious.

Cathi said...

I proudly sign off with xxoo!

Tricia B said...

Good Lord, NO. The thought never entered my mind.

Elisabeth Arlen said...

Natalie I totally agree with you, but in the UK I see "xxx" used a lot in PERSONAL circumstances and I don't think it has sexualised connotations. What are they? Am I ignoring something blatantly obvious?

Heather said...

COMPLETELY UNPROFESSIONAL.

Feisty said...

There's absolutely no way I would consider sending an email to anyone in construction signed with the XOXO. I agree it's inappropriate and bizarre.

This is exactly the kind of thing that makes men take women less seriously. It's the same reason I've not interviewed interns with the email LuvBug23, you clearly don't think about yourself as a professional or present yourself that way.

Feisty said...

I don't see in what circumstances this is appropriate other than to family members (and close ones at that).

Maybe it's because I've worked in construction for too long, but that's just about the most unprofessional thing I can think of to do, email wise.

Also, if you're "uncomfortable ending a command with a period" I suggest you grow up and join the rest of the adults.

Feminine whimsy does not equal an empowered woman.

DENISE. said...

LOVE this! My big question -- is X the kiss and O is the hug? That's what I thought. But then someone told me that they thought the X was the hug (crossing arms around their neck) and the O was a kiss (and an open wet-mouthed one at that!). So now many people sign off with and xx and I wonder "are they kissing me or hugging me?" I definitely sign off xoxo most of the time with my girls. I definitely don't do it with most guys -- just my husband (who, by the way, is European and didn't understand ANY of it!) But since I work in the creative industry, I think things are definitely more slack like that. I can NEVER imagine doing that in the professional/corporate world. Loved the topic!

lc | rebuild said...

Oh man, I would never ever use xoxo in a professional context! Although I wouldn't mind using it in more personal emails to coworkers that I have an established friendship with. Most of my friends use it or xo as a sign off. If I'm sending something off to a big group of friends that I know well, I'll use "love."

But for work? Always, always "All the best" or "Thanks" depending on the subject.

sara said...

i never comment here (but always read!) because by the time i can get to it, it feels a little too late to throw my two cents in... but i have to chime in because this post made me smile!
i always sign off "xx" unless that feels too personal... then i downshift to "xo"... it feels like i'm being too curt or unfriendly if i just sign my name - or worse, nothing at all!
xx sara
(see? automatic xx!)

Lela said...

Yes.

xoxo,
Lela - http://www.LelaLONDON.com
;)

tammy h. said...

I'm a preschool teacher, and have no problem using "xoxo" to sign off. I do agree that it does depend on your field of work. In mine, we try to be more like a "family" and are pretty informal (it's hard not to be with playdough and glitter stuck in your hair). Personally, I love seeing that on cards and emails. It makes the message seem sweet and caring.

Linnea Paulina said...

The Levo League also did a write-up recently reflecting on the same article in The Atlantic:

http://content.levoleague.com/careerexpert/signing-emails-xoxo-appropriate-for-office/

When I was in the Coast Guard, I signed all e-mails with "Respectfully,..." I use xo for female friends & family, but not for business.

Lindsey Hoover said...

I tend to use either:

"-Lindsey"
or, "Take care" (As a final closing sentiment after several back and forth emails in any context)
or, "Love" (Family and friends)

In some professional environments I am sure that the "xoxo" signature is appropriate. For example, my boyfriend and I run a business together and I wouldn't sign any email to him with a "Thank you for your time." ;) I believe that warmth in all forms of human correspondence is beneficial and can be achieved in a manner that is equally professional. Also, femininity is without question a valuable contribution to the workplace. However, based upon my own reactions and the general consensus of reactions to this post, "xoxo" is not seen as professional in ALL work settings and at worst it is seen as silly. So, for the sake of any equal rights agenda, it may be better to forgo this closing sentiment in those professional work settings where it may be deemed as inappropriate.



Lady Grey said...

I always do!
oxo

Jessica said...

I'm a doctor. I think my patients would think it weird if I signed xoxo. Sometimes I sign emails to my husband xxx....o

Lillie Malone said...

I would never ever sign something to somebody XOXO unless it was my husband. I sign all notes and emails to him xo.

Autumn Smith said...

I feel like this is more of a sign of infantalization of women (punctuation is too harsh/mean... let's be NICE) than of any sort of feminist global takeover.

J.M. Swanson said...

I totally agree. In an office environment it would be completely inappropriate. I just ran this across my two daughters (20 and 21) and they completely agree too. Keep the xo's limited to the personal emails.

Kate said...

I never use xoxo, but I frequently sign off "xxx" or "x" in emails, texts, etc. to both male and female friends, but I wonder if this is a cultural thing. My North American friends never use them, but in Britain it's common practice amongst friends.

Betsy West said...

I started using "xxx" more when I lived in New Zealand for several years. My American sister once told me it means x-rated/pornography. Ha!! I still use it in spite of her interpretation.

Jinsight said...

Never heard of xxx - I'd think it has too many naughty connations - at least that'd be the first thing I'd think of if someone signed that way!

JeanneW said...

It's pretty much the equivalent of saying "Hugs and Kisses!" Personally I wouldn't use it in a professional context. It comes across as giggly and immature. However, I do use it with loved ones, like my husband, children or sister. I think the Gossip Girl show has cemented the sentiment, where the high school aged/ mean girl/Queen Bee would sign off her life-destroying, venomous posts with a saccharine "XOXO Gossip Girl".

jones18 said...

I don't use it, but only would in emails to friends and family. It's much too Gossip Girl/teenage girl talk to be appropriate in a work setting. I end my work related emails with Best or Best regards. I am a lawyer and honestly would find it weird if clients ended emails they sent to me with xoxo.

Porter said...

I apparently have a whole hierarchy of sign offs that I haven't really thought about until now. For professional contexts, it's "Best," or "cheers" if I know the person well (yes, with those capitalizations). With friends, it's "love," or "much love," or "cheers" if we're acquaintances. "xo" is only for those folks I'm closest to - my family, my best friend, etc. When emailing recently with a guy who I was (am?) hoping to date I only signed off with my name (-Sara), I think because I was subconsciously not (still am not) sure how to categorize him just yet.

skullandcrosstales said...

I agree with the majority of people on here in thinking it is compltely innapropriate for business purposes. I would never, ever sign off that way in an email to my boss or colleagues - it is overly-friendly and unproffesional and i think it could raise a lot of eyebrows about what your intentions are.
That being said, i think if you are in a creative industry it is a lot more acceptable. For example, bloggers and etsy shop owners - Jo for example makes her living by being friendly and personable, so if she signs of with an xoxo it fits with her 'brand'. Large companies and corporations (lawyers, civil engineers, construction workers, bankers, etc) are expected to be proffesional and courteous, not friendly and personable.
To my friends, i always sign of xoox - xoxo reminds me too much of gossip girl!!

Chelsea MacMeekin said...

In my very conservative industry 'xoxo' is not appropriate in the least, but in normal correspondence for personal use, I definitely use it.

Chelsea
Haute Child in the City

Niki Caron said...

I am with you! I sign all my emails with an "xo" and maybe a few more if I'm showing a lot of love! I also completely agree that it's taken on a new meaning, like dear, but I'm not sure it's caught on to everyone else yet! We'll see I guess!

kate365til30 said...

I think it's unprofessional in the workplace but I can't help myself too!! It just feels sweet and happy! Long live the "xoxox"!!
xoxo
Kate

Suzanne Fletcher said...

Only with family or close friends - and only when I'm feeling it or think they need a little love!

Tara Tufo said...

I sure do...unprofessional or not, it's me. my initials are tt so i add that as well.

xoxott

jennyg said...

What??? I cannot believe you would use this as a sign off to a lawyer or an accountant...I think I almost blushed thinking about this. xoxo should be kept between loved ones ONLY...or it will loose its meaning altogether!!! x's=kisses o's=hugs.
jennygggggggggggggg

Marcy said...

This is so weird. I would never ever ever do this.

I don't even sign e-mails to my husband that way but then again he doesn't get them during the day so they're more of a "just in case I forget to tell/show you something, here's an e-mail that you'll probably read sitting next to me on the couch" type of thing.

I'm a chronic "no sign off whatsoever"-er actually.

Garden Gal said...

I also have gotten into the habit of signing texts and emails to friends and family with a little xo at the end...Once out of habit I signed an email to my boss with it and immediately realized after I had sent it, so I promptly sent a follow up apology. He did not seem phased in the least! XO

Madelinebe said...

I think this is more of a Brit thing. I had never encountered it until interning in London in a fashion PR office. When I came home I had to stop myself from signing "xox" because I felt like people just didn't "get it" in the states.

simplylivinghealthy.org said...

Hum. This made me really stop and think. I have never signed anything xoxo ever. I am wondering why I would...or would not???? Definitely something to ponder. ;)

lewis said...

I blame Gossip Girl.

If I ever use "xoxo," it is definitely as a joke.

For friends, I'll come up with a random saying or a funny summary of the e-mail, then my name. For anyone else I'll use "All the best" or nothing at all, then my name.

jacobithegreat said...

Nooo. At work, I'm extremely professional and a little formal. Personal emails are not much different, just with more exclamation points and happy faces. :o)

celesteandpearl.blogspot.com said...

I hadn't seen that article in the Times so I'm so glad you commented on it! And yes, I do sign notes xox or even more compassionately xx, but definitely not in my corporate work setting. I find it's shifting connotations fascinating, and I just remember my grandmother signed everything xxx ooo, which I loved. For me, it's a way to express kinship without writing "love". But if I really love someone, I'm sure to write "I love you" too. No abbreviations for that.
xox Liz {celesteandpearl.blogspot.com"

Mami said...

One of your best posts because I love all of those women!

Natalie S. said...

Teeny84 Oh the emails you must see! Are your favorites the ones that start "Hey Teeny..." or no salutation at all? It drives me mad! I even had a student start one "Yo teach,..." Sigh.

Elisabeth, I was thinking of XXX as the most explicit pornographic rating. I just checked Wikipedia and it's just a US thing--looks like most of the world just stops at X.

melle-belle said...

I think it's cute to friends or family, but totally inappropriate for business, whatever your business. I would think someone was a wack job of they xo'd me on a professional email. Just my opinion.

skykomie said...

Totally inappropriate for the workplace. With friends I find it juvenile. With spouse/SO or dear friends, fine

Alina said...

I absolutely would not sign off with (nor expect people to use) xoxo at work. It seems unprofessional to me. I still think xoxo means "hugs and kisses," but I also still think that "literally" is not used properly all the time. I use xx to sign off personal emails, but only with close friends (or with whom I'd like to be closer, and am close enough), and only infrequently. I don't think it's too cold to sign off with one's name. I think, in some ways, every closing line has lost its meaning.

Alina said...

It should be noted that I've always thought "x" was the hug, and "o" was the kiss. Apparently, it's the other way around. Well, there's another reason for me not to use it at all...

Alina said...

That's what I thought - that X was the hug, and O the kiss. According to Wikipedia, anyway, it's the other way around!

not the big things said...

Interesting isn't it. I use 'x' with friends and family, but not at work... unless it is a personal conversation with a colleague and not work related... even then I stop and think about whether or not it is appropriate. Maybe it's so overused now it has lost its meaning.

Nicole Martin said...

I use 'xo' on everything, including my business cards! looooved reading this post, I say it's the new industry standard- why not, right?! thank you, xoxo

eileen ragan | leanerbythelake.com said...

oh goodness! i work in finance so an "xoxo" would be completely inappropriate. i usually go with a "Thanks!" or "Best,". one employee in our group signs his e-mails as "yours" which i actually really LOVE receiving. when i'm 55 and have been at the firm for 30+ years i think i'll start rocking that sign-off. until then, it's the generics for me.

for friend e-mails it is typically some joke based on what antics the day has brought. i.e. "started my Monday morning with R. Kelley's Remix to Ignition, Eileen"

http://leanerbythelake.com

Little Lady said...

Hmm! Interesting post! I don't ever put "xo's" in my writing...but it is kinda cute! Love the vintage pic at the beginning of the post! Cute!

filoderba said...

i left once the xoxo signature in a business email (i work for the government) and can say it has been very little appreciated. ....

filoderba said...

i left once the xoxo signature in a business email (i work for the government) and can say it has been very little appreciated. ....

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