9 Tips to Write a Better Thank You Note

The nine tips in this guide will help to take your note from good to better!

In general, a better thank-you note is considered sincere, unique, and heartfelt.

Better thank-you note writing will become easier with practice. The more notes you write in this manner, the more natural they will become.

Notes about this guide:

For this guide, “gift” will mean any type of gift. This could be a physical gift, food, act of kindness, or any other reason that is prompting the thank-you note.

Before and after examples follow the tips. These examples will show you a better version of a good note (or not so good).

Items in [brackets] should be replaced with appropriate words for your note. For example, change [Person’s Name] to Heidi when thanking Heidi for a gift.

Tip #1 – Don’t start your note with “Thank you”

The first sentence of many thank-you notes is “Thank you for the….” and then the gift is stated.

This is an excellent way to start a note, however, if you want your note to stand out, starting

with “thank you” should be avoided since it is a conventional way to start a thank-you note.

Here are some alternative ways that you could start your note:

  • I enjoyed…
  • You are a wonderful…
  • Whenever I receive a gift from you I feel…
  • I am grateful for…
  • We had a fantastic visit with you…
  • You made my day!
  • The gift from you was a delightful and unexpected surprise.

Tip #2 – Be specific

Within your note, include why or for what you are thanking the person. Being specific has several advantages:

  • Stating the gift will help the note to feel less generic. Anyone can say “thank you for the gift” when not able to remember what the gift was!
  • Mentioning the gift can help the note to feel more personal. Most people like it when their gift is acknowledged.
    • “Thank you for the beautiful glass serving bowl” is better than “Thank you for the wedding gift.”

What can you say when you don’t remember what the gift was?

If you can’t recall what someone gave you, you could admit it in the note. This may feel

embarrassing, but the person will still be thanked. You will also not have the pressure of trying to remember (or lying) if ever asked about the gift. You could also choose to compliment the person or mention something else about your relationship.

Including a generic “thank you for the gift,” will work best when receiving a large number of gifts at the same time (wedding, graduation, baby shower, etc.).

  • We’d like to thank you for coming to the wedding and for any gift. I’m sorry, we lost our list. So we do not know which gift was from you. Yes, we are quite embarrassed about this, but want to thank everyone!
  • Well, this is embarrassing. I forgot what you gave me for my birthday last month. I received several gifts at the same time and thought I would remember who gave me what! My memory failed. I liked all the gifts! Thank you for coming to the party and for the gift.
  • I am thankful for our friendship. You are fantastic, and I enjoy the time we spend together. Thank you for the gift last week!

Resource: 31 Generic thank you note wording examples

Tip #3 Share an insight

Adding an insight into how the gift impacted you will also help the note to feel more personal and unique.

  • How did you benefit from the gift?
  • What did you learn?
  • Why did you like the gift?
  • How did you feel when you received the gift?

Tip #4 Intentional Word Choices

Word choice matters. Spending a few extra minutes on the words you choose to write may make your note better.

  • Use synonyms to avoid overused words such as nice, great, good, interesting, and other
  • adjectives that don’t carry meaning due to overuse. Pick words from a synonym list that you know and would use in your real life.
  • Don’t say, “I can’t thank you enough.” What would be enough? Why can’t you thank them enough?
  • Don’t use the word “heartfelt” to make your note “heartfelt.” Saying heartfelt does not automatically mean the person will feel that your thanks were heartfelt.
  • Be considerate of who the gift was from. The tone of your note may be different for your boss than your mom.

Tip #5 Make it Personal.

Don’t start every sentence with I. People want to hear about themselves, not you! Make at least part of the note about the other person. One way to do this is by giving a compliment. Are there other reasons you appreciate the giver that could be added to this note?

Also, use names in your note. People like to be mentioned by name. This includes the names of their children, spouse, or partner.

Don’t begin with only “Hey,” “Hi,” “Hello,” or no greeting at all. Use the person’s name.

Dear Ted, Hello Kayla, Dear Mr. and Mrs. Jones, etc. The name you choose should be the name you use with them in person or other correspondence (such as email).

Tip #6 Increase the length

Consider making the note longer than your typical thank-you note. A note of greater length may help the note feel less obligatory. But don’t add extra words or sentences just for the sake of it.

A thank-you note can be short and impressive. A one-sentence thank-you note can work.  Ask yourself the questions listed below.

Ask these questions for one sentence notes:

  •  Would adding a second sentence make it better?
  • Is the sentence the best it can be?
  • Are their adjectives that could be added?

 Questions to increase length: 

  • Will you see them soon?
  • Do you have something interesting about your kids or family (including pets) to share?
  • Could a compliment of the person or gift be added?

Tip #7 To Handwrite or Not

Anything handwritten will usually stand out as most people acknowledge the extra time and effort that goes into writing the note.

Handwriting the note also allows you to pick out a notecard that fits the situation. I like cats and often choose a cat notecard unless I know the recipient does not like cats.

However, keep in mind that some people will not care if the note is handwritten or not. My current boss doesn’t care if notes are handwritten. He doesn’t display note cards in his cube. So, when I write him a thank-you note, sometimes I email it since he has shared that a handwritten note doesn’t make the note “better” to him.

Also, sometimes handwriting a note may not be practical. If you are thanking someone you met online (such as a blogger or someone through Facebook), asking for their address may be perceived as creepy.

 

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Tip #8 Grammar and Spelling

Use a tool like Grammarly or Microsoft Word to check your grammar and spelling. This method will require you to write the note on a computer first and then copy it to a notecard (if handwriting the note).

The benefit is a grammatically correct note. Improper grammar is a disappointment to some people, and they will not feel that your note was “better.” Dictionaries can also be used! Or typing a word into Google Search to see if Google suggests a correct spelling.

Resources for Thesaurus / Synonyms / Grammar / Spelling

Note: this section contains affiliate links.

Thesuarus.com

Merriam-Webster Thesaurus website

Merriam-Webster Thesaurus Paperback

Synonyms on Pinterest

Grammarly

Hemingway Editor

Tip #9 Write multiple drafts

Write the note at least twice using different words. Then pick the note you like best or combine the elements, from multiple drafts into one note.

There is often more than one way to say something. Experiment with different wording to discover what makes your note better.

Before and After Examples

This section will show a “Before” thank-you note that could be made better. Next, will be the “Tips to make it better” section will list which tips could be used to make the note better. The after examples will be the before note after it is rewritten with the tips applied.

Example #1 before the note is improved

Hey,

Thank you for the book. I really appreciate it. You’re the best!

Heidi

Tips used to make it better:

#1 Don’t start with “Thank you”

#2 Be specific (included the book title)

#3 Share an insight (“learned about food”)

#4 Intentional Word Choices (removed I really appreciate it)

#5 Make it personal (use the person’s name in the greeting)

#6 Increase the length (with a compliment)

#8 Used Grammarly

After applying the tips

Hi Violet,

I learned many things about food from reading Practical Paleo. Thank you for sharing this book

with me. I am looking forward to trying out some of the recipes once I decide on a meal plan.

Now that I have read the information for myself, I understand why you think everyone should

read it. Also, I have been inspired by your healthy glow after making some of the changes

recommended in this book.

Best regards,

Heidi

Example #2 before the note is improved

Dear Jake,

Thank you for helping me. You are great.

Heidi

Tips used to make it better:

#1 Don’t start with “Thank you”

#2 Be specific (the spreadsheet)

#3 Share an insight (faster now / efficient)

#4 Intentional Word Choices (tremendous instead of great)

#6 Increase the length (in the first draft)

#7 Handwrite the note instead of emailing as this coworker sits in the adjacent cube.

#8 Used Grammarly

#9 Multiple Drafts

After applying the tips (Draft 1)

Dear Jake,

I am grateful for your help with the difficult spreadsheet. The formulas you set up for me will

make reporting the figures to other departments much faster now. You are a

tremendous teammate.

Thanks again,

Heidi

After applying the tips (Draft 2) – center section of the note only and keeping it to two sentences.

My spreadsheet is much more efficient since you improved it. You were a tremendous help.

Example #2 before the note is improved

Hello Neighbor,

Thank you for the beautiful flowers.

Heidi

Tips used to make it better:

 #2 Be specific (surprise for a birthday)

#4 Intentional Word Choices (magnificent instead of beautiful)

#5 Make it personal (used Carol’s name and name of the grandkids)

#6 Increase the length (added compliment about the grandkids, invited to come over soon)

#7 Handwrite the note as the address for neighbor is known.

#8 Spelling – confirmed that magnificent was spelled correctly.

After applying the tips

Dear Carol,

Thank you for surprising me with the magnificent flowers for my birthday. I enjoy seeing your grandkids, Buster and Lina, play in your backyard. They brighten my day. Please stop over for coffee soon. Your visits are the best part of my day.

Thanks again,

Heidi

Note: Including only the first sentence in the after note would be an improvement over the before the note.

Summary

The nine tips in this guide will take your thank you notes to the next level!  From good to better.

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About The Author
Heidi has been writing thank you notes for more thank 30 years and is the author of A Modern Guide to Writing Thank-You Notes. Her goal is to help people write better thank-you notes by provding tips and examples.