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How to Write Thank You Letters

Updated on February 18, 2012

Thank you notes, cards, and letters can seem very quaint in today's fast-paced, electronic society. But written expressions of gratitude are still important. This handy guide answers all your questions about writing thank you letters.

When is it Appropriate to Send a Written Thank You?

Written thanks are appropriate whenever you receive a gift, particularly if it is from someone whom you do not regularly see in person. Written thank you notes are also advised following job interviews, if a friend or neighbor has helped you out, or on any occasion where you feel grateful to someone.

Can I Send an E-mail?

A thank you email is acceptable, although sending a letter through the mail is even more special. It shows that you cared enough to take the time to hand-write a letter and put a stamp on it. If you want to send an email, consider sending an e-card, which is a little bit more special. These can be found on several web sites, often for free.

Can't I Just Call to Say Thank You?

If you are unable to write a note, then a phone call is better than nothing, though it certainly does not symbolize the same level of care and attention toward the giver. Phone call thank yous are most appropriate for very close friends and neighbors who would not likely expect written thanks. However, this might be the exact reason that you decide to take that extra step and send an unexpected letter!


What Do I Write?

Thank you letters do not have to be fancy. They should simply contain a few sentences about how thankful you are. If you don't want to write too much, or the note is more formal, use a simple store-bought thank you card and just write a few short sentences. Packages of blank thank you cards can be found in the greeting card section at most retailers; it's a good idea to keep a package on hand at all times. Otherwise, you might put off writing a note and then forget about it. If you have a lot to say, use nice stationary and write a letter from the heart.

If you are saying thank you for a gift, include a few lines about why you like the gift and what you will do with it. (If you really DIDN'T like the gift you might have to keep this part short!)

If you are saying thank you to someone following a job interview, simply thank them for taking the time to meet with you, and reiterate how much you would like to work for the company. Don't rehash your entire resume to them; keep it short and to the point. An e-mail thank you is acceptable, but a mailed letter will be more memorable.

How Quickly Do I Need to Send it?

You should send your thank you card as soon as possible, usually within a few days of receiving the gift or act of kindness. If you are writing a large number of thank you cards following an occasion such as a wedding, it is customary to get them out within a three-month period (according to Emily Post).

Can I Send a Form Letter?

To save time when sending out a large number of thank you notes, some people will make copies of a generic letter and just sign it. This is not advised. Thank you notes should be written individually and should contain personalized acknowledgment of the specific gift whenever possible.

Can I Write Thank You Notes for My Kids?

If your child is too young to write on their own, of course you may write the note. However, even pre-school children should be encouraged to add a picture or write their name on a card that you have written. Once children are school-aged, they can be expected to write their own thank you notes, even if they are short. If you need to help with the letters or addressing the envelopes, you should at least explain the process to child so that they understand what is involved.

Written thank you notes, cards, and letters are a wonderful tradition that expresses your gratitude. The person receiving your thank you card will feel very glad that you took the time to write!

Sage Carter shares ideas, information, and advice for better living. Visit her at


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    • sagecarter profile image

      sagecarter 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you, Pixienot and sweetheart for your kind words!

    • sweethearts2 profile image

      sweethearts2 6 years ago from Northwest Indiana

      Excellent advice. I got a thank you phone call for a handwritten thank you because they were surprised that some still take the time to express thankfulness in handwriting. Voted up and useful.

    • Pixienot profile image

      Pixienot 6 years ago from Clarksville, Indiana

      I thought the art of "Thank You" cards was just about obsolete. I am a big believer. I have thank you cards from years ago and they mean a lot to me.

      Thank you for this very timely article. Indeed it is an act of true appreciation to take a little time and thank someone for "whatever" it is you appreciate.

      Voted up, awesome and interesting.