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How to Write Clear, Readable, Effective Sentences that Readers Love!
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How to Write Clear, Readable, Effective Sentences that Readers Love!

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How to Write a Better Thank You Letter
by Brian Scott

Saying thank you is a simple expression. But to say it thoughtfully without breaking the rules of etiquette can be harder than you may realize. So what do we require to write the perfect thank you letter? Here are 10 handy tips to help you write a better thank you letter.

1. Determine your context

You can find many things to say thank you for. Think about your situation before you put pen to paper — are you thanking a close relative for a birthday gift; a business colleague for his part in a successful commercial pitch; or thanking the parents of class 3A for their work at the school fair?

2. Establish the tone

Every situation demands a different tone of voice, so make sure your writing style and voice strikes the right note — you would write a family thank you in more conversational tone, and write a thank you to a business associate in a more formal tone.

3. Carefully plan and word your thank you

Like any written piece, it is unlikely you will produce the perfect piece of prose on your first attempt. Unless this is a quick batch of thank you cards to 30 relatives, you need to be patient and ensure your letter genuinely serves it purpose. Write a draft, then re-read it, asking yourself if you have said all you meant to say and if the tone feels right. Sometimes it is a smart strategy to lay aside the draft and return to it later. Reading something afresh can help you read it through someone else’s eyes.

4. Make your thank you letter timely

A thank you letter that your send shortly after the occasion is quite effectual. A letter sent too long after the event can produce the opposite effect. Waiting two months to formally say thank you to someone can make the recipient feel that you have not greatly appreciated his or her efforts after all.

5. Personalize your thank you to the situation

Even if you are writing 30 thank you cards for birthday gifts that received, try to avoid being formulaic. Make reference to the gift and why it was particularly appropriate or how, where and when you used it. If you are thanking someone for something they did for you, try and share with them how it helped or touched you and why you feel their help was especially important.

6. Address your thank you letter correctly

Because you are spending time to thank someone, try not to detract from that thought by making errors on key details — you would be surprised how often this is the case. If you are writing personally to the parents of class 3A, make sure you get their names right; or if you are writing multiple thank you letters for gifts, make sure you thank the right person for the right one! If you are writing in a business context, make sure you address the letter with the correct job title, department and physical address — not only do you want to avoid causing offence with misinformation, but you also want to make sure your letter actually arrives.

7. Check your spelling

Always use your best handwriting and check your spelling — sloppy presentation and spelling errors will detract from the overall impression you want to create with your letter. If you are using an electronic format, you have no excuse not to run a spell check; and if you are writing by hand, ask someone to check over your letter if you are uncertain about specific errors.

8. Use good grammar

As with spelling, good grammar is of paramount importance. Your letter may be posted on a notice board or shown to friends, family or colleagues so ensure it gives the best impression of you.

9. Keep it short

Your letter should indicate that you spent time, effort and thought into writing it. That said, saying thanks does not need to be a long tome running several pages. Say what you need to say, make it personal, make it polite and sign off.

10. Keep it simple

Of course, it is important to strike the right tone and include all relevant information with your letter, but do keep it simple too. No matter to whom you are writing, a letter that says what you need it to say—politely, accurately, neatly and concisely—will always strike the right note and feeling.

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