August 13th, 2014

How To Write the Perfect Thank-You Note

by Jacqueline Whitmore
thank you note

Image credit: Sarah Parrott/Flickr

When was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note? Perhaps it’s easier to remember the last time you expected to receive one but didn’t.

“I’m too busy,” is an all-too-popular excuse for not sending thank you notes these days. As a child, my mother always insisted that I write a thank-you note to anyone who gave me a present or did something special for me. Even today, I try to write a note or send a card a couple of times a week.

Whenever someone gives you their time, advice, or a helping hand, that’s reason enough to express your gratitude. Here are some tips on how to write the perfect thank-you note from my bestselling book, Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work.

  1. Write the note by hand. This personal touch will convey that you cared enough to take the time to sit down and think about that person. If you think your handwriting is barely legible, print.
  2. Invest in good-quality stationery. Rather than buying generic note cards with “Thank You” printed on them, consider purchasing a set of premium correspondence cards or fold-over notes with your name elegantly engraved. (My favorite stationery store is
  3. Keep it short. Three or four carefully crafted sentences are usually enough to get the point across. In your note, mention something specific about the event or gift.
  4. Address it properly. When writing a thank-you note, it’s bad form to misspell a person’s name. Be mindful of the details.
  5. Send it promptly. A thank-you note should be sent within one or two days after someone does something special for you. Even if you feel that too much time has lapsed, send a thank-you note anyway. You’re better off sending it late than never.

Bonus tip: A thank-you call is appropriate in some casual circumstances and e-mail is better than nothing at all. But save these methods for when the situation is informal.

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