When you’re used to everyday communication via text, email or phone, putting pen to paper can be a bit daunting. Here are some tips and examples to help guide you as you express your gratitude.

Although many of us tout the beauty and warmth of a handwritten note, it’s hard to find the time to actually sit down and send them out. However, what better time of year to express your gratitude than during the holiday season?

If you’re not a natural writer, you might be intimidated by the process of expressing yourself on paper. In addition, if you are used to doing all of your communication by text, email or phone, you might not be sure where to begin with IRL (in real life) writing.

Here are some of the things to consider as you send out your thank-you’s.

The elements of a thoughtful thank-you note

Stationery

Miss Manners used to recommend very specific stationery for thank-you notes and casual correspondence. However, for most of us those old rules no longer apply, so you should feel free to choose notecards or note paper that you like and enjoy using.

Because your note cards are presumably for professional contacts, past clients and other business communications, you will probably want to avoid overly cartoonish or jokey cards, especially as these will distract from and undermine the sincerity of your message.

Business letterhead or notecards with your logo definitely keep your communication within the realm of the professional. That might be fine for a note that is related to work, but it might seem a bit cold or even advertorial if used for a personal note to a friend or as a thank you for a personal favor.

A pre-printed thank-you card can be cute if you include a personal note. However, you should not simply sign and send this type of card as that can seem a bit rote and impersonal.

Don’t forget to use a blue or black ink pen for correspondence, never pencil. A note of this type might be meaningful to the recipient and should be written with posterity in mind.

Greeting

There are a variety of ways to open your note, including any of the following listed in order of formality:

  • Dear Mr. Smith:
  • Dear Bob,
  • Bob,
  • Bob —

For someone you know only slightly, the first two greetings will be preferable, while the last two work better for someone with whom you have a more personal relationship.

Some people attempt to avoid the formatting dilemma altogether by opening with “Hi!” or some other more verbal greeting. This should be avoided.

People like to have their name used, and a generic greeting makes the note impersonal. It might even make the recipient wonder if you have outsourced the task of note writing.

Content

A thank-you note does not have to be long. The emphasis here is on the sincerity of your thoughts, not on the eloquence of your writing.

Consider the following format:

  1. Greeting
  2. A thank you for (specific action or item)
  3. What it meant to you or how it helped you
  4. A word about the future, such as “I can’t wait to … ” or “I look forward to … ”
  5. A closing and signature

A note on ‘just’

Many writers begin notes, emails and other correspondence with the word “just,” as in “Just writing to say thank you … ” or “Just wanted to drop you a line … ”

There is a tentativeness to this that suggests that you are apologizing for taking up the recipient’s time.

It is better to start strong with the purpose of the note itself:

  • “Thank you for allowing me to help you with the purchase of your home.”
  • “Thank you for working with me to close the sale of 555 Main Street.”
  • “Thank you for your kindness in teaching me how to write thank-you notes.”

Closing

Like the greeting, closing can be formal (“Sincerely” or “Very truly yours”) or casual ( — Name). You can also include a short phrase like one of the following:

  • See you soon!
  • Thanks again!
  • Talk soon!

Some people favor alternative closings like “Best!” or “Cheers!” Although these might be useful for casual correspondence, they can feel awkward in a more formal, business context.

Examples

Remember this format from above?

  1. Greeting
  2. A thank you for (specific action or item)
  3. What it meant to you or how it helped you
  4. A word about the future, such as “I can’t wait to … ” or “I look forward to … ”
  5. A closing and signature

Here are some examples using the format above:

Dear Mr. Smith:

Thank you for the opportunity to represent you on the sale of 555 Main Street. It was a pleasure getting to know you and learn more about your real estate investment portfolio. I look forward to the opportunity to serve you in the future as you continue to consolidate your portfolio and move into multifamily holdings.

Sincerely,

Joan Jones


Dear Bob,

Thank you for working with me to co-list the property at 555 Main Street. It was a pleasure working with you, and I learned a great deal from you about negotiation strategies that I am sure I will use in the future. I look forward to the opportunity to work with you again.

Very truly yours,

Joan Jones


Bob,

Thank you for your recent recommendation of my services to the Allen family for the sale of their home. It was such a pleasure getting to know them and finding out how I can help them with their move to Saskatchewan. I look forward to helping them get the best possible price for their home and to making their goals a reality.

Talk soon!

Joan


Bob —

Thank you for taking my dog to the dog park during my late closing on Tuesday. Mr. Piddles is so fond of you and of your dog, Bernie, and he slept great after all of that exercise and fresh air! I look forward to the opportunity to return the favor for you and Bernie sometime soon.

Cheers!

Joan


What’s your top tip for writing thank-you’s? Share it in the comments section below!

Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on  FacebookTwitterInstagram  and YouTube.

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