How Not To Write a Thank-You Note: Tips and Etiquette

Thank-you notes are a standard etiquette formality.

Thank-You Note Image
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Thank-you notes are a year-round tradition. Sometimes we're writing notes of thanks for gifts—holiday gifts, birthday gifts, wedding gifts, or housewarming gifts—and other times, we're writing notes to express gratitude for assistance or unexpected kindnesses. Still, other moments compel us to thank someone for being a friend. For all these great reasons, there are few occasions in which a thank-you note is not appropriate. Alternatively, when a note is appreciated, several things remain to remember when writing. Here are etiquette tips and guidance for sharing your gratitude in note form.

Thank-You Note Etiquette

Avoid Anything Misspelled

Thank-you notes are no place for grammatical or spelling errors. To avoid them, you should first write your sentiments in a draft on another sheet of paper and then copy them into the note. You should also make a point to write slowly and carefully. This practice will help ensure you don't make grammatical mistakes or misspellings as you write.

Avoid Any Excuses or Apologies

A sentiment such as "I'm so sorry for the late arrival of this note" is usually unnecessary. The thank-you note is about your gratitude and the generosity of the person receiving the letter, so don't spoil the mood with guilt about tardiness or an apology for poor handwriting. The person you send the card to is likely just happy to receive it.

Avoid Anything Illegible

This rule might be self-explanatory, but it's important to remember to write legibly. Composing a note takes time and attention—both to the message's content and the written script. If legible handwriting is challenging, typing the letter and signing it is also­ an option.

Avoid Anything Negative

When writing a thank-you note, it's essential to keep things positive. This message is not the medium in which to complain or gossip. A rule of thumb: Don't write down in a thank-you note (or anywhere else—we're looking at you, Facebook) any sentiments you wouldn't want the whole world to read.

Avoid Anything Bland

Details matter. The more detailed and specific your thank-you note, the more heartfelt it will be. Writing "Thank you for the gift" is less memorable than writing "Thank you for the red KitchenAid mixer." The right balance of detail and specificity makes a thank-you note meaningful and sincere.

Avoid Anything Prolonged or Loquacious

A thank-you note is a simple-but-detailed exchange of gratitude. Primarily, keep the length to one page or one short card. The thank-you note is not the place for lengthy discussions or updates. If you would like to send those, it's best to write a letter dedicated to that purpose and send it separately.

Send a friend a dispatch of gratitude today. We're sure they'll appreciate it.

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