Have you ever wondered if you should send a thank you note? Trust me, it’s a good idea!  Showing your appreciation in writing is an act of generosity and respect that is almost always well-received. But there are some key tips to bear in mind when writing a message of gratitude. Exercise proper thank you note etiquette to get the most out of your kind gesture.

It is normal to doubt your intuition when writing a thank you note, but do it anyway! This article shares when to send a thank-you note and how to structure one.

Thank You Note Etiquette: When To Send Thank You Notes

While it’s always a good time to give thanks, sending a thank-you note (and never missing an important occasion to send one) will help your words stand out and show the utmost gratitude. Here are some tips on when to send a thank-you letter! 

When You Receive A Gift

A handwritten thank you note needs to be sent every time you receive a gift. No matter how small the present (or how many presents you receive), your gift-givers deserve notes of thanks for each one!

Think of all the time and consideration that goes into giving a present:

  • Brainstorming
  • Purchasing (or making)
  • Wrapping
  • Delivering

As the recipient, the least you can do in return is take a few minutes (that’s all it takes) to write a thank you! 

If you are tempted to hop on the computer, remember that sending an email is not the same as writing a note in pen and ink. Even in the age of technology, emails feel less sincere and more aloof than physical letters. 

Don’t take the easy road! Thank you note etiquette for receiving a gift indicates you should take the extra steps and hand-write your words of appreciation. 

When Someone Does Something Special For You

Let’s say someone in your office takes time out of their busy schedule to mentor or assist you with a project. Their gift of time and expertise deserves a note of thanks! For these occasions, an email or hand-written note is acceptable (especially if the favor was professional). 

When you begin writing, be sure to mention how someone helped you! Specific details make your thank you notes more sincere. Remember, time and attention are precious gifts, no matter who they come from!  

After A Professional Meeting

Even a simple meeting is cause for thanks! After an event or a meeting, practice proper thank you note etiquette by expressing gratitude to the other people in attendance. 

A thank-you message after a professional meeting goes a long way in making connections and building relationships. It demonstrates that you got something out of the meeting and are grateful for the knowledge you acquired.

It doesn’t matter if you are meeting with someone for the first time or the fiftieth! Thank you note etiquette can be used for all levels of working relationships. You may not have even come in contact with the person you are thanking (if the person was a speaker at your professional event).  But if you appreciated their style and delivery or learned something new, they deserve thanks.

After A Job Interview

Of all thank you note etiquette tips, this is the one that can change your life! Always follow up with a thank you note after a job interview

Email is a better choice in this case because you want to act promptly after your interview. You can always follow up with a handwritten note sometime after your email is sent.

Human resource managers from all business backgrounds agree that thank you messages make a huge difference for job applicants. Following up matters so much that your notes will even go into your hiring file!

How To Practice Thank You Note Etiquette 

There are several rules to follow when exercising thank you note etiquette. From thoughtful words to strategic timing, here are all the tips and tricks you need to nail writing thank you notes.

Send The Note Quickly

Timeliness registers as sincerity when it comes to thank you messages. You have to send your thanks quickly if you want it to truly count!

Consider the times you’ve been thanked. Messages that come through sooner are those that truly make you feel appreciated. Don’t miss your opportunity to thank others as soon as you can!

Start With A Greeting

It may be tempting to skip the greeting in a rush. However, a greeting (formal or informal) makes a thank-you note more meaningful.

You can greet your recipient lots of different ways—here are some examples:

  • Hi Bill, 
  • Dear Mr. President,
  • Hello, Cohort B,

The list goes on and on! Just be sure the greeting you choose upholds the appropriate tone for the occasion. You definitely want a more professional greeting for a job interviewer than you would use for a long-time associate or friend.

Keep It Short and Sweet

For busy folks, this is good news! Thank you notes should be short and to the point. Be mindful of your recipient’s time when writing—it helps to think about how long you want your own thank-you notes to be.

Don’t mistake a brief note for one that’s boring or generic. Try to be creative! 

You should try to grab hold of your audience with your first sentence. Mention the gift or action and the impact it had on you. The entire message should be about five lines total.

Choose An Appropriate Sign-Off

You don’t want to pour your heart and soul into the perfect thank you message only to fall short on the closing. Again, think about what makes sense based on your relationship with the recipient.

You can use:

  • Warm regards,
  • Sincerely,
  • Best wishes,

Professional thank you note etiquette calls for a less emotional, more respectful closing. 

Package Your Thank You Note Thoughtfully

Send a professional note of gratitude on professional stationery. Post-meeting is not the time to get cute with flowers and illustrations. 

Keep it simple! It is appropriate to use your company’s branding if you wish.

And beware of sloppiness or errors. Even the most beautiful words can read sour if they look like chicken scratch. 

Pro tip: Address your envelopes by hand and use a real stamp with images that you love for a more personalized touch. Avoid using a postage meter! 

Teach Your Children About Thank You Note Etiquette

You’ll make practicing thank you note etiquette much easier on the next generation if you teach them early! As soon as your children are old enough to hold a pencil (or able to scribble or apply stickers) get them into the habit of thanking people with a note.

It’s great for a child to practice thank you note etiquette through all chapters of life. Practicing gratitude and good manners will ultimately open more doors for them. 

Does Thank You Note Etiquette Apply When You Receive A Thank You Note? 

Have you ever felt like you needed to thank someone for thanking you? This meta-dilemma is actually quite common! The right thing to do after someone sends you a note of appreciation is to respond.

But not because thank you note etiquette demands it. Responding to a thank you is a great way to build on a relationship and validate the writer’s good feelings about you!

Your response doesn’t have to be a long one. A simple message like: “I’m so glad I was able to be of assistance. Looking forward to our next meeting,” is totally sufficient.

Practice thank you note etiquette regularly to master it. You never want to walk away from a circumstance that was helpful or meaningful to you without knowing how or when to show your gratitude! Reference this post any time you need tips on how to write a thank you note. 

Be sure to sign up for more business etiquette training services with me at the American Academy of Etiquette. I can help your employees experience greater success at work with customizable training and discussions that fit your niche.   

Why Thank You Note Etiquette Matters: Everything You Need To Know | American Etiquette