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.
WHEN TO SAY THANK YOU IN WRITING
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
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
- Thanks to an individual or organization for a customer
- Commendations to volunteer service workers for their
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
- 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.
7 TIPS FOR WRITING THANK YOU LETTERS
Following are a few tips that will help you whenever you
encounter thank you letter situations in your business or
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
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
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
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
WritingHelp-Central.com. 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: