Technology didn’t kill the thank-you note; it made it stronger. While it’s easy to fire off a quick word of thanks via email or text, such a move undermines the original purpose of the message. You’re attempting to express sincere gratitude. Why would you do it through a method of communication that inherently says “I put as little effort into this as possible”? A proper thank-you note makes your gratitude ring true. So how do you write one? Before you grab a sheet of loose-leaf and start scribbling, read this guide on how to write a proper thank-you note. You can thank us later… with a note.

Order Proper Stationery

A proper thank-you note requires proper stationery, so don’t rip a piece out of a notebook, fold it in thirds, and mail it like it was meant to cradle a check. You want thick card stock with your name at the top. Luckily, you have plenty solid brands offering just that. While we encourage you to look around, we’ll go to bat for the name we’ve trusted for years now: Terrapin Stationers. The 140 lb card stock the company offers gets customized with your name at the top in your choice of a few different fonts and colors, and your order of 100 comes with envelopes to boot.

Know Who You’re Writing It To

No, this is not about putting the proper address on the front, though that is important, because that’s how mail works. This is something else entirely. This is about what you do with your name at the top of your card. If the person you’re writing to is close to you—parent, good friend, relative—put a slash through your last name. This is an old-school move that takes some of the formality out of the situation. If you’re Bruce Wayne writing to Robin, crossing out “Wayne” shows you’re close enough for The Boy Wonder to just call you “Bruce.” If, say, you’re writing a thank-you note after a job interview, you’ll want to leave your full name across the top, as the person is merely an acquaintance. (via Essential Gentleman)

Write Your Message in Word or Your Notes App First

Good stationery isn’t cheap, so the last thing you want to do is go through three or four of your cards because you can’t remember how to spell “generosity.” We recommend using Word, Google Drive, or the Notes app on your phone to make sure you have the correct message down before you put pen to paper. 

Lead With Their Name

Leading with “Dear” feels dated and reminds us of the letters we sent when we were hunting for our first internship. Instead of trying to find a better word, simply start your note with their name. 

Don’t Write The Great American Novel

This is a thank-you note; there’s no reason to pen your magnum opus. The ole K.I.S.S. strategy applies. We typically write three sentences and that usually covers everything we need to say. Lead with a simple “Thank you for…” Next, write something a tad more personal—why you love the gift, how what they did will help you, etc. Finally, close with a reiteration of that thanks. Think of it as sandwiching a small message in a bun of thanks. (via The Art of Manliness)

Close With a Signature

If you want to tangle with the oh-so tricky valediction, have at it. Instead of “Sincerely,” “Regards,” or (ugh) “Yours Truly,” we like to do this: just sign the damn thing. Trust us, regardless of situation, this works. You’ve already said your thanks; there’s no reason to muck it up with some cliche send-off. 

Date It

A proper thank-you is a keepsake. For that reason we advocate putting the date on one. If they look at the note in a few years, the date will help them place the event and reason for the card.

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