This article has everything you need to know about how to write a thank you note. Thank you notes are a great way to show your appreciation to someone for their generosity. However, many people wonder when it’s necessary to send a thank you note.
For example: If you said “thank you” in person, are you still required to send a note? What if you were too sick to send one immediately? How late is too late to send one?
Have no fear – while there are some basic etiquette regarding thank you notes, you should follow this rule: “when it doubt, send it out.” Keep in mind that it’s always better to send one out late than not send one at all.
When you receive a gift, you are obligated to send a thank you note. This includes: birthday gifts, wedding gifts, graduation gifts, bridal/baby shower gifts, and any other situation in which you are the recipient of a gift. Additionally, if someone hosts a part in your honor, you should send him/her a thank you note.
If you stay with someone while travelling, unless it’s a close friend or family member, you should always send a thank you note. If you receive a handwritten sympathy or congratulations card/letter, you should send a thank you note. You are not required or expected to send a thank you note for those preprinted cards that are just signed.
In some cases, thank you notes are optional. You can, but you’re not required to, send a thank you note after a job interview or after being a guest at a dinner party. If you have said thank you in person, a handwritten thank you note is still a good idea, but not required. When you’re in doubt, you should send a thank you note when something nice has been done for you- especially if that something nice was a gift.
You should do your best to send a thank you note out no later than two weeks after receiving a gift. However, if the recipient of the gift has been sick or in the hospital, the thank you note should be sent out as soon as they are able to. This “rule” changes in the case of wedding gifts. If a bride and groom were required to send out their thank you notes within two weeks, they’d be spending their honeymoon writing them. In this case, a thank you note should be sent out within three months of receiving the gift.
So read on and find out everything you need to know regarding thank you note etiquette. You may find out some things that you didn’t know before.
How To Write a Thank You Note:
1. Be Specific
You should never use generic or empty phrases. You should never say something like “Thank you for your gift” or “I appreciate your generosity.” This makes the recipient wonder if you’ve just sent out a form letter for your thank you notes. You should always be specific about the gift and your plans on using it.
2. Never Mention Dollar Amounts
If you’re thanking someone for a monetary gift, it is completely unnecessary to mention the dollar amount. You should explain how you plan on using the money without mentioning exact figures. Not only is it unnecessary to do so, it is completely against all etiquette regarding thank you notes.
3. Discuss Other Topics
Once you have stated your thanks, make the note conversational instead of obliging. Ask them about their life and interests. Tell them what you’ve been up to and your plans for the future. Look back on a memory you have together. Let them know how thankful you are to have them in your life.
4. Include Specific Details to Personalize It
Include details in your note that make it specific to the individual that is receiving it. Adding details will show them that you do care and have an interest in his/her life. For example, ask them about their pets or tell them that when you participate in an activity, it reminds you of them.
5. Match The Thank You With The Gift
If you “overdo” the thank you, it makes you sound sarcastic and insincere. On the other hand, if you underplay the thank you, it makes you seem ungrateful. So, make sure that you match the thank you with the gift. In some cases a simple “Thank you, I appreciate it,” is perfectly fine. In other cases, you want to be more creative with your thank you.
6. Send the Note In A Timely Manner
You should make an effort to send the thank you note within a short period of time- a week or two is a good time frame. If you’re late getting it out, send it anyway with a brief apology in the note, then express your thanks for the gift.
7. Always Keep Supplies On Hand
Make sure that you always have supplies for thank you notes on hand. You never know when you may get a gift or someone may do something for you that you should send a thank you note for. If you always have supplies on hand, you don’t have to worry about running by the store to get a card or running by the post office for postage.
8. Type Your Note If Necessary
Though it is always best to handwrite a thank you note, in some cases, it may be better to type it. If you have poor penmanship or you can’t write for one reason or another, it’s perfectly fine to type it. Just make sure that you still include all the details that make it personal. You still want it to be sincere.
8. Express Your Thanks Again
Near the end of your note, say thanks again. It’s not overkill to repeat your thanks. A simple, “Thank you again for the….” Will be sufficient.
9. Don’t Write Three Sentences Or Less
For personal thank you notes, you want to write more than three sentences. You want to thank them for the gift. You want to tell them how you plan to use it. You want to reminisce about the past. You want to ask them about their life. In short, write a real note- not just a quick “Thanks.”
10. Don’t Talk About Yourself
Sure, you can mention how you plan to use the gift and what your plans are for the future. However, don’t make the thank you note an essay about yourself. The primary focus should be on the gift and the giver- not you, the recipient.
11. Don’t Write Anything Negative
When you’re writing a farewell thank you note to a former employer, you should never write anything negative- even as a joke. This is extremely unprofessional and will make you look bad. When leaving an employer, you always want to leave on good terms so that you if you need to return to employment with that company, it will be much easier.
12. Don’t Wait A Year
When you get married, it can be easy to forget to mail out the thank you notes. After all, there’s the wedding, then the honeymoon, then you start settling into your new life together. Don’t wait a year before you send out the thank you notes- get them out as soon as possible after your honeymoon.
13. Don’t Type Your Thank You Notes
Whenever possible, you should handwrite your thank you notes. However, in some cases, it may be necessary to type them out. For example, if you’ve broken your arm and you’re thanking someone for helping you during this time- it’s okay to type it. Or, if your penmanship is not legible, it is okay to type it.
14. Don’t Skip The Thank You
You may think it’s been too long and you’re embarrassed that you waited so long. Don’t worry- send it out any way. After all, a thank you is better late than never.
15. Don’t Be Generic
Your thank you notes should never be generic- especially if you’re thanking someone for an interview. You want to be as specific as possible without overdoing it. One of the main purposes for sending a thank you note after an interview is to make them remember you- and consider you as a good fit for the position.
16. Thank Those Who Interviewed You
It is very important to express your gratitude after a job interview, and a second one as well. If appropriate, you can send a group thank you note. However, if you choose to do this, make sure to address each and every person that was present individually by mentioning something specific about them.
17. Send Them Out Quickly
You should send out your thank you letters as soon as possible after the interview- the rule is within 24 hours. However, if you know you’re not going to have a chance to get a handwritten note out immediately, you can call with your thanks or even send a thank you email.
18. Follow An Email or Phone Call With A Handwritten Note
If you are unable to get a handwritten note out within 24 hours and you choose to call or email, make sure to follow up with a handwritten note shortly after. This will make a much bigger impression on the interviewer(s) than an email or phone call. Also, it will show them that you are serious about wanting the position.
19. Make an Impression
The York Technical Institute says that less than four percent of job applicants actually send a thank you letter after an interview. Sending one will help you to stand out from the crowd and make an impression with the employer. There’s no guarantee, but it’s possible that this could help you to land the job.
20. Address What Wasn’t Said
If you leave an interview kicking yourself because you forgot to mention some very important information, you can include it here. This is another chance to clarify what you did or didn’t say and to make you stand out in the mind of the interviewer.
21. Keep It Short and Simple
Make sure that your thank you note is short, simple, and to the point. However, you should use it to express that you’re interested in the position, that you have enthusiasm for the company and all they represent, and prove that you’re the best candidate.
22. Proofread Your Letter
Sending a thank you note riddled with misspellings, grammar mistakes, and wrong punctuation can really say a lot about you- and nothing good. So, make sure you take some time to proofread your letter before sending it. You may want to consider asking someone else to look it over too. This way, you can be sure that it is perfect and represents you well.
23. Don’t Forget To Thank Those Who Helped You Along The Way
If you have friends or family who helped you along the way to finding a job, make sure you send them a nice thank you note. Maybe your best friend polished up your resume or gave you a lead on the job. Perhaps a family member gave you some tips on how to interview properly. Always show your gratitude, even for those things that seem so small.
24. Use The Rule Of Three
When writing your note, use the “rule of 3.” All you need in your thank you note is: the date, a personalized greeting (Dear Their Name), and three sentences. Sentence number one should thank them for taking the time to meet with you. Sentence number two should mention something you enjoyed about the interview. Sentence number three should restate your interest in the position- but not your qualifications.
25. Include Your Business Card
If you have one, make sure that you include your business card with the thank you note. If you don’t have one, consider ordering some to help you with your job hunt. This will be an easy way for you to give out your contact information if you happen to run into a job lead and don’t have your resume with you.
26. Use Note Writing As A Handwriting Lesson
This is a wonderful way to teach handwriting to those who are just learning to write. Sometimes, teachers and childcare providers use notes as a writing lesson. They’re a great way to practice writing words and sentences.
27. Start With A Greeting
The standard greeting is “Dear….” However, you can vary this depending on what your relationship is with person you’re sending it to. You can be informal by just using their name. Then again, “Dearest…” could be appropriate- it’s old-fashioned, but romantic. Then again, if you’re really feeling like writing out of the box, use “Hey” or “What’s up?” Remember though, if the greeting seems forced, you shouldn’t use it.
28. Express Your Gratitude
Of course, the whole purpose for a thank you note is to express your gratitude. Here is where you say the words, “Thank you for the….” Here, you acknowledge that you received the gift they sent you. If it’s something you really like, you can use a complementary adjective to describe the gift.
29. Explain How You Plan To Use The Gift
This is where you will say something nice about the gift and tell the giver how you plan to use it. Even if you don’t really care too much for it, find something you like about it and always be positive without telling a lie.
30. Tell Them You Enjoyed Seeing Them
If they gave you the gift in person, such as at a party, let them know that you enjoyed seeing them and getting to spend some time with them. Mention something about the event that was especially funny or important to the two of you.
31. Tell Them You’d Love To See Them Again
Whether the gift was given at a party or mailed to you, let the giver know that you’d love to see them and spend some time with them. Perhaps mention a favorite activity that the two of you have enjoyed together in the past or have always talked about doing.
32. Express Your Gratitude
You really can’t say “thank you” enough. Well, maybe you can be a bit repetitive, but this is only twice, so you should be fine.
33. Sign, Seal, and Send
Close in a way that feels comfortable for you and your relationship with the giver. Sign your name, put it in an envelope, address the envelope, stamp it, and drop it in the mail. You’ve done your part-breathe a sigh of relief.
Final Words About Thank You Notes
34. Avoid “Mass Produced” Thank You Notes
For weddings especially, the trend has become to print lots of pieces of paper with “thank you for coming.” This is supposed to serve as the thank you notes for the guests. However, no matter how popular it is, this is not the best way to do it. Sure, it’s a lot of work to hand write a personal note to each and every guest, but each and every guest took time to pick out the perfect gift for you- show a little gratitude.