How To Write Thank You Letters With Class

When I first started tracking the information preferencesof people visiting my Writing Help Central Web site I wassurprised to find how many folks were seeking informationon how to write thank you letters. In fact, "thank youletter" information and sample templates are the third ranked destinations at that Web site.

However, I caution you to be careful if you conduct a"thank you letter" keyword search using an engine suchas google or yahoo. Those top 10 or 20 search resultswill definitely give you the wrong idea about thank youletters in the broad sense. Looking at those results aloneyou'll find that the vast majority of so-called expertsseem to think that there is essentially only one kind of thank you letter - one written after a job interview.

In reality, this is a very narrow view that fails torecognize the literally dozens of situations for whichthank you letters are often warranted. I believe that thisproliferation of references to employment-related thank youletters is simply a reflection of the massive number ofWeb-based businesses involved in the online career and jobhunting services industry.


The purpose of a thank you letter is self-explanatory.Write one when you want to formally thank a person, companyor institution for something they have done for you or yourorganization, which you consider to be out of the ordinary.

Simply receiving a contracted service as requested does notnormally warrant a formal thank you. However, serviceprovided to you above and beyond your normal expectations can often call for a special thank you letter. Normally,it should be a clear case of "above and beyond the call ofduty", as the saying goes.

And yes, thank you letters can also be important follow-upmechanisms in certain employment-related situations.

Generally speaking, there are two main types of thank youletters -- business thank you letters and personal thankyou letters.

Business Thank You Letters

There are many situations in business that can warrant athank you letter. Here are a few generic examples of thankyou letter situations for businesses and institutions:

- Appreciation for any type of special consideration

extended by another organization.

- Thanking a speaker for a presentation at an annual board


- Customer appreciation letters - thanking them for their


- Thank you letters to employees for exceptional service

or performance.

- Thanks to an individual or organization for a customer


- Commendations to volunteer service workers for their

personal contributions.

These are just a few examples. I'm sure you can think ofmany more situations that might demand a thank you letterfrom a business or institution.

Personal Thank You Letters

As with business situations, there are many instances inday-to-day life that can warrant a formal thank you letter.Following are a few typical situations that often require a personal thank you letter:

- As a follow-up after a job interview and/or job offer.

- To a company or institution in appreciation for

exceptional customer service.

- Letter of appreciation to a teacher for a positive

influence on your child.

- To friends and/or neighbors for their exceptional support

during a difficult period.

- Thanks to a service club or agency for their support to

your family.

- Social occasion thank you's.

Again these are just examples. New situations similar tothese arise on a regular basis in our daily lives thatcall for a formal thank you letter.


Following are a few tips that will help you whenever you encounter thank you letter situations in your business orpersonal life.

1. Make Sure It's Appropriate

One of the main issues with respect to thank you lettersis to know when to send one. As a general rule, I wouldsay "better to be safe than sorry". However, make surethere is something noteworthy about the situation. A thankyou letter for a routine situation doesn't make sense anddilutes their meaning.

2. Write It Promptly

It is always best to send a thank you letter as soon aspossible after the event for which you are doing thethanking. It will help with the level of sincerity in yourletter if the event is still fresh in your mind. In anycase, a delayed thank you letter will seem like anobligatory afterthought to the recipient.

3. Remind The Recipient

In your introductory sentence, make it very clear that itis indeed a thank you letter and that it pertains to aspecific event, situation and/or person. This willeliminate any confusion on the part of the recipientas to the purpose of the letter.

4. Make It Short and Direct

Get straight to the point and never exceed one page. Thankyou letters should be short, direct, sincere, and to thepoint. In business situations they will always type-writtenbut personal thank you letters can be hand-written or typed,as appropriate to the situation.

5. Make It Personal

By definition, a thank you letter is a sincere personalgesture from one individual to another. It should beexpressed as a heartfelt personal sentiment, even whenwritten in a business situation. At the same time, striveto be balanced in approach and don't be overly effusive.

6. Always Write it To One Person

Always write your thank you letter to an individual, notan organization or group. Even if it's a situation wherea group was involved, write your letter to the seniorperson in the group and/or the group spokesperson. Ask that person to please pass on your sincere appreciationto the other people in the group, and name them in your letter if possible. (Contrary to some advice given bycertain so-called experts, in my experience, writinga group letter is never appropriate and achieves littleor nothing).

7. Check Spelling and Grammar

As when writing all letters make sure you carefully checkyour spelling and grammar. This is even more importantfor thank you letters, since they are almost always asincere statement of appreciation from one person toanother. Be sure to double check the spelling of allnames used in the letter. There's no quicker way to blowyour credibility and sincerity than to misspell someone'sname.

Sending thank you letters when appropriate is important inboth business and personal life. Individuals and companiesthat do not send thank you letters are seen as ungraciousand perhaps not worthy of future good deeds or specialtreatment.

So, whenever it's warranted, make sure you send anappropriate thank you letter. Invariably, thank youletters are very well received and appreciated by recipients, and the sender's reputation is generally enhanced in their eyes.

To see a sample thank you letter, check out the following:

© 2005 by Shaun Fawcett

Shaun Fawcett, is webmaster of the popular writing help He is also the author of severalbest selling "writing toolkit" eBooks. All of his eBooks andhis internationally acclaimed f-r-e-e course, "Tips and TricksFor Writing Success" are available at his writing tools site:

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