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Writing a Thank You Note 101

Expressing gratitude in writing can be more difficult for some than others, but below you can find some tips to get you started.

Thank you notes are an excellent way to express your appreciation to someone after he or she has done something nice for you like hosting you for dinner, giving you a gift, assisting with a task or event or going above and beyond what is expected of them. (For more information on sending thank you letters following a job or graduate school interview check out the Career and Professional Development Office’s Thank You Letter Guide.)  

Expressing gratitude in writing can be more difficult for some than others, but below you can find some tips to get you started.

  1. Format: While email is convenient, a handwritten thank you note shows that you took time to write the note, address it and drop it in the mail (and, who doesn’t love getting a piece of mail that isn’t a bill?). That being said, a thank you in any form is better than no thank you at all.
  2. Stationary: No need to purchase anything too fancy, but writing the note on a simple blank card or neutral stationary makes a better impression than notebook paper.
  3. Timing: Ideally, thank you notes should be written as soon after the event as possible; however, it is better to send a delayed thank you note than none at all.
  4. Message: Getting caught up in the wording of the message can lead some to delay or neglect sending a thank you. To avoid this pitfall, it is best to keep the message simple. After the proper salutation, the letter should thank the individual for the gift or thoughtful gesture, also explaining how much you have appreciated his or her help. In the case of the gift, you can include a sentence describing how you plan to use or have enjoyed using the present. In addition, a thank you note should also include a way to continue the connection with the person you are writing to (i.e. “I am looking forward to seeing you next month.”) or, when appropriate, some updated news about your life.

These tips are only meant to be a guide. While writing these notes do not lose sight of what is most important, which is expressing your sincere appreciation to the recipient.