How to Write a Heartfelt Thank-You Note
There's no secret formula for how to write a thank-you note, but these tips will help you get started
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The practice may seem outdated to some, but knowing how to write a thank-you letter is a skill that is sure to come in handy. Sure, you could fire off a quick text to thank someone, but receiving a handwritten note is a timeless and memorable way to make someone feel appreciated. Of course, figuring out exactly what to say (or when to write a thank-you note) can be a challenge. It’s like understanding how to be happy, learning how to practice gratitude or finding the perfect thank-you gift; with a little time and effort (and few guiding examples, like the ones below), you can learn how to write a thank-you letter that is personal, heartfelt and memorable. Aiming for more humor than heart? Try these thank-you memes.
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When to write a thank-you note
There are many occasions that call for writing a thank-you note, such as after a job interview, after staying at someone’s home or when someone has done you a favor. And most people know that writing a thank-you note is just good wedding etiquette. But the most common reason to send a note is receiving a gift. Even if you didn’t ask for the gift, don’t like the gift or you said thank-you when it was handed to you, you should still write a thank-you note. This is extra important if the gift was from an older relative, like your grandma.
Keep stationery on hand so you can write the note as soon as possible. At the very least, this lets the sender know the gift arrived at its destination. But it will also leave a lasting impression on your loved ones.
What to write in a thank-you card
Whether you use email or send a handwritten missive, there are a few basics that should appear in every thank-you letter format. Need more ideas? Read these thank-you messages that perfectly express your appreciation. This is what to write in a thank-you card:
- The opening address. When learning how to write thank-you notes, it’s important to address the person properly. Unless you know the person well, “Dear…” is the best opener—it works for your Great Aunt Lucille just as well as it does for Dr. Rutherford whose scholarship you have won. If it’s a professional thank-you letter, use Mr. or Ms. Last Name.
- The thank-you. Don’t be shy—let them know how you feel right away with a clear thank-you statement. “Thank you for [gift/occasion].” For example, after a job interview you might say “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today.” After a wedding, say something like “Thank you so much for attending our wedding/Thank you for your thoughtful wedding gift.”
- The specifics. This is where you go into detail about what you are thanking the recipient for. You can talk about what you will use the gift for (“I’m so excited to start making my own bread”), or tell them how much you appreciate them (“I’m lucky to have a friend like you”). If it’s a professional thank-you letter, highlight an aspect of the position you’re particularly interested in, or reiterate how your skills and experience can help the company.
- The final thank-you. The most important part of learning how to write a thank-you letter is writing the thank-yous. Think of them like bookends: one at each end of your letter. It can be as simple as a “thank you again,” or you can include a note about looking forward to seeing them again. After all, your relationship is more important than any gift, and that’s what you’re thanking them for as well.
- The signoff. For professional thank-you letters, use a formal closing like “Sincerely” or “Respectfully.” For friends and family, “Warm wishes” or “With love” works perfectly. If you’re sending a letter, add your typed and handwritten signature; for an email, you can just type your name.
Thank-you letter writing tips
- Keep it short and sweet. When writing a thank-you note, aim for four to five sentences. That’s all you really need to express your appreciation.
- Send a thank-you note as soon as possible. This is especially important for thank-you letters after job interviews (24 hours is the maximum), but it goes for every kind of thank-you note. Try to send it while the event, gift or favor is still fresh in everyone’s mind. That said, a late note is better than no note at all. With basic etiquette figured out, make sure you’re not breaking one of these obscure etiquette rules.
- Personalize it (and mention the gift!). Even if you’re sending out a huge number of thank-you notes, like after a wedding, try to include a personal touch in each one. It means so much to the person receiving it, and in certain situations (like thanking everyone you interviewed with for a job), it can make or break a thank-you letter. If the thank-you letter is for a gift, make sure you thank them specifically for that gift.
- Write in your own voice. What you write should ultimately sound like you. If you’re a casual person, don’t write an overly formal note to your best friend. Don’t feel like you need to use fancy words, either; it’s fine to use the same tone while writing as you would in person.
- Proofread and edit. Even though your thank-you note is short, it’s always worth re-reading it to check for typos and errors.
Thank-you note examples
There are certain etiquette rules that have changed in the last decade, but just like sending an RSVP, thank-you notes are not one of them. Below, we’ve included some thank-you note examples to help with how to write a thank-you letter for different occasions.
Professional thank-you letter example
You can improve your chances of being hired by sending a thank-you letter after interviews. If you were interviewed by multiple people, send each one a separate, personalized thank-you note. If you’re emailing your thank-yous, make sure you know the basics of email etiquette. You can use the sample below as a guide.
Dear Ms. Smith,
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me this morning. I really appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the role and gain insight into what working with the team would be like.
This is exactly the sort of position I am hoping to secure in order to progress in my career. I was especially interested to hear about [particular aspect of the role]. As we discussed in the interview, my relevant skills and experience in communications make me a great fit for this position.
Thank you again for your time. I hope to hear from you soon regarding next steps.
First name Last name
Event thank-you letter example
For a major life event where people generally give you gifts, tackling a list of thank-you notes can be intimidating. Here’s a tip: try to keep a list of gifts and senders as you unwrap them. It will make your thank-you letter writing so much easier! The below sample will work equally well for an event like graduation, if you tweak the wording a bit.
Dear Matt and Lisa,
Thank you so much for celebrating our wedding with us! One of the best days of our lives was made even more special because you were there.
Thank you as well for the beautiful and generous wedding gift. We will think of you whenever we use it!
Thank you again for being part of our wedding day.
The happy couple
Gift thank-you letter example
When someone in your life gives you a gift or does you a big favor, it warrants a handwritten thank-you letter. It’s the best way to show your gratitude (apart from these gratitude quotes). The below sample will help you express your appreciation.
Thank you so much for the barbecue. We used it for the first time last night and had the best chicken of our lives! Please let us know when you’re back from vacation so we can have you over for dinner and show off our new grilling skills.
Thank you again for the perfect gift.
Taylor and Jack
Is it appropriate to email a thank-you letter?
Yes—in certain circumstances. Just like tipping etiquette, figuring out the etiquette around sending thank-you letters can be confusing. Small favors, close friends and family and the time pressure after job interviews are all factors that could make an email appropriate. For example, an emailed thank-you is a good way to thank your kid’s best friend’s dad for giving them a ride home at the last minute, or for making sure that a hiring manager remembers you the next day.
For big favors and life events, a handwritten card is still the most appropriate form when it comes to writing a thank-you note. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as when you do not have the recipient’s home address or when time is of the essence. However, in general a tangible thank-you is best for tangible gifts. In this age of digital correspondence, receiving a handwritten card through the mail feels special; there’s a warmth and intimacy to seeing the handwriting of someone you love.
Now that you know how to write a thank-you letter, learn why saying thank-you is one of the etiquette rules you should always practice.
Emily Post: “Complete Guide to Writing Thank You Notes”