Sincerely, Thank-You Note Recipients Everywhere

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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 thanks for assistance or unexpected kindnesses. Still other moments compel us to write just to say thank you for being a friend. There are few occasions in which a thank-you note is not appropriate, and there remain several things to keep in mind when writing. Here are six important things to avoid when sharing your gratitude in note form.

Anything Misspelled

Thank-you notes are no place for grammatical or spelling errors. To avoid them, you should first write out 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 will help ensure you don’t make any grammatical mistakes or misspellings as you write.

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 note, so don’t spoil the mood with guilt about tardiness or an apology for poor handwriting. The person to whom you’re sending the card is likely just happy to be receiving it.

Anything Illegible

This might be self-explanatory, but it’s important to remember to write legibly. Composing a note takes time and attention—both to the content of the note and to the script in which it is written. If legible handwriting is a challenge, typing the note and signing it is also­ an option.

Anything Negative

When writing a thank-you note, it’s essential to keep things positive. This 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.

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.

Anything Prolonged or Loquacious

A thank-you note is a simple-but-detailed exchange of gratitude. At the most, its length should be kept 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.

Check out some of our other tips on writing thank-you notes, and send a friend a dispatch of gratitude today. We're certain they'll appreciate it.

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Are you a dedicated thank-you-note writer? Let us know your tips for crafting heartfelt thank-you notes for friends, family, and neighbors.