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In Wired World, Handwritten 'Thank You' Still Tops
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In Wired World, Handwritten 'Thank You' Still Tops

Arts & Life

In Wired World, Handwritten 'Thank You' Still Tops

In Wired World, Handwritten 'Thank You' Still Tops
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Thank You Card

Even if you say "thank you" by e-mail, it's best to follow up with a handwritten note, says etiquette expert Peggy Post. hide caption

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For many, summer is a time of transition: weddings, graduations, job interviews. And that means it's also a season for thank-you notes.

In today's world, e-mail has replaced snail mail as the preferred mode for much communication. But etiquette expert Peggy Post and Judy Gilbert, Google's director of staffing programs, both agree that a handwritten note is still the best way to say "thank you." They talk to Michele Norris about what's proper and what's not — and offer advice on pitfalls to avoid.

Ten Dos and Don'ts of Thank-You Notes

Here is a checklist for the perfectly written expression of gratitude.

Tips for Writing Notes

Emily Post

Peggy Post is spokesperson and author for the Emily Post Institute, and great-granddaughter-in law of etiquette doyenne Emily Post.

  • Remember: Be sincere and write promptly.
  • Write from the heart.
  • Use expressions that are natural to you.
  • Keep it brief and to the point.
  • Don't forget to include the date.
  • Do your best to write legibly.
  • Include a "How are you?"
  • In thank-you notes, be appreciative and …
  • … say something specific about the gift.
  • Note life events with personal letters.
  • Above all, be gracious.

— From Peggy Post, Etiquette, 17th edition

  • Do personalize your notes and make reference to the person as well as the gift.
  • Do be enthusiastic, but you don't need to gush. Avoid saying that a gift is the most beautiful thing you've ever seen unless you mean it.
  • Don't send form letters or cards with printed messages and just your signature; don't use e-mail or post generic thank-you's on your Web site in lieu of personal notes.
  • Don't mention that you plan to return or exchange a gift or indicate dissatisfaction in any way.
  • Don't tailor notes to the perceived value of gifts. No one should receive a dashed-off, perfunctory note.
  • Do refer to the use you will make of money gifts. Mentioning the amount is optional.
  • Don't include photos or use photo cards if this will delay sending notes.
  • Do promptly acknowledge receipt of shipped gifts; either send your thank-you within a few days, or call or e-mail the sender -- following up with a written note soon.
  • Don't use lateness in writing as an excuse not to write. If you're still sending thank-you notes after your first wedding anniversary, keep writing.
  • Do remember that a gift should be acknowledged with the same courtesy and generous spirit in which it was given.

From the Emily Post Institute,

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Emily Post's Etiquette

by Peggy Post

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