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Writing an Excellent Thank-You Letter

S Nicholas

Thank-you letters are always a good idea when following-up after an interview, to thank a professor or colleague for a letter of recommendation, or simply thanking a friend or family member for a gift.

A hand-written note on simple stationary is preferable. Begin by writing the date in the upper right corner. Skip down a line and on the left side of the page, write your salutation (Dear Mr. Smith). Skip down a line and indent roughly five spaces.

For a thank-you note for an interview, begin by telling the person exactly why you are thankful. “Thank you for taking time to meet with me yesterday for an interview.”

Continue by writing two or three sentences expanding on that for which you are thankful. “I appreciate the amount of time you spent with me. Your company is impressive and I was excited to learn more about what you do. I valued the questions you had for me.”

Begin a new paragraph and write two or three sentences explaining your expectations. For an interview, consider this: “I look forward to hearing from you soon about the position for which I interviewed. I am available by phone or email at any point if you have further questions.”

Close by reiterating that for which you are thankful. “Thank you again for taking time to interview me.” Close by using a word that expresses both thanks and formality. The word “regards” is perfect for an interview thank-you.

If you are sending a thank-you note for a letter of recommendation, begin by thanking the person for their action. “Thank you for writing a letter of recommendation for me.” After the opening sentence, write two or three sentences expanding on why you are thankful. You might want to say: “I appreciate the amount of time you spent writing a letter for me. I value your time, and am thankful you were able to help me in this way.”

Begin a new paragraph, and expand on how you feel that letter of recommendation will help you. Those who are willing to write a good letter of recommendation would be pleased to hear how their efforts may help you. “Because I studied under you for three years, your knowledge of my work-ethic is the most valuable asset in my job search. I felt this prospective employer would greatly appreciate your insight into my work.”

End by reiterating your thanks, and offering to help them, if possible. “Mr. Smith, thank you again for taking time to write a letter of recommendation for me. If I can ever be of service to you, please contact me. I will always be available to help my college mentor.”

For the closing, “regards” might be a bit too formal for someone you know well enough to ask for a letter of recommendation. “Sincerely,” “fondly,” or even “best regards” would be an appropriate closing phrase.

For a thank-you note for a gift, after the salutation, get to the point, thanking them for the specific gift. “Grandmother, thank you for the beautiful tea set.” Then spend two or three sentences explaining why you are thankful for that gift. “I appreciate the amount of time you spent in picking out such a perfect gift for me. I can tell you put a lot of thought into the tea set. I am grateful for your attention.”

For a family member or friend who gave you a thoughtful gift, they would love to know why you like the gift and how you will use it. “I plan to use this tea set at my very next party. I host a monthly brunch for my friends, and this will be sure to get a lot of comments and compliments.”

Close by reiterating your thanks. “Thank you, again, for taking time to pick a gift that suits me so perfectly.” For someone you know well, an intimate word of closure is preferred. “With love,” “your friend,” or even “wishing you well” would be appropriate.

For any type of thank-you letter, it is important to be sincere, to thank the person for their time, and to let them know you appreciate them. A thank-you letter doesn’t have to be long, but each sentence must be carefully thought-out so that even a short note will be packed with your gratitude.

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