How To Write Thank You Letters With Class

When I first started tracking the information preferences of people visiting my Writing Help Central Web site I was surprised to find how many folks were seeking information on how to write thank you letters. In fact, "thank you letter" 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 such as google or yahoo. Those top 10 or 20 search results will definitely give you the wrong idea about thank you letters in the broad sense. Looking at those results alone you'll find that the vast majority of so-called experts seem 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 to recognize the literally dozens of situations for which thank you letters are often warranted. I believe that this proliferation of references to employment-related thank you letters is simply a reflection of the massive number of Web-based businesses involved in the online career and job hunting services industry.


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

Simply receiving a contracted service as requested does not normally warrant a formal thank you. However, service provided 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 of duty", as the saying goes.

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

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

Business Thank You Letters

There are many situations in business that can warrant a thank you letter. Here are a few generic examples of thank you 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 of many more situations that might demand a thank you letter from a business or institution.

Personal Thank You Letters

As with business situations, there are many instances in day-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 to these arise on a regular basis in our daily lives that call 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 or personal life.

1. Make Sure It's Appropriate

One of the main issues with respect to thank you letters is to know when to send one. As a general rule, I would say "better to be safe than sorry". However, make sure there is something noteworthy about the situation. A thank you letter for a routine situation doesn't make sense and dilutes their meaning.

2. Write It Promptly

It is always best to send a thank you letter as soon as possible after the event for which you are doing the thanking. It will help with the level of sincerity in your letter if the event is still fresh in your mind. In any case, a delayed thank you letter will seem like an obligatory afterthought to the recipient.

3. Remind The Recipient

In your introductory sentence, make it very clear that it is indeed a thank you letter and that it pertains to a specific event, situation and/or person. This will eliminate any confusion on the part of the recipient as to the purpose of the letter.

4. Make It Short and Direct

Get straight to the point and never exceed one page. Thank you letters should be short, direct, sincere, and to the point. In business situations they will always type-written but 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 personal gesture from one individual to another. It should be expressed as a heartfelt personal sentiment, even when written in a business situation. At the same time, strive to 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, not an organization or group. Even if it's a situation where a group was involved, write your letter to the senior person in the group and/or the group spokesperson. Ask that person to please pass on your sincere appreciation to the other people in the group, and name them in your letter if possible. (Contrary to some advice given by certain so-called experts, in my experience, writing a group letter is never appropriate and achieves little or nothing).

7. Check Spelling and Grammar

As when writing all letters make sure you carefully check your spelling and grammar. This is even more important for thank you letters, since they are almost always a sincere statement of appreciation from one person to another. Be sure to double check the spelling of all names used in the letter. There's no quicker way to blow your credibility and sincerity than to misspell someone's name.

Sending thank you letters when appropriate is important in both business and personal life. Individuals and companies that do not send thank you letters are seen as ungracious and perhaps not worthy of future good deeds or special treatment.

So, whenever it's warranted, make sure you send an appropriate thank you letter. Invariably, thank you letters 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 site He is also the author of several best selling "writing toolkit" eBooks. All of his eBooks and his internationally acclaimed f-r-e-e course, "Tips and Tricks For Writing Success" are available at his writing tools site:

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