Expert Analysis of an Actual Thank You Note

I love thank-you notes. Some are better written than others.

Here is my analysis of a thank-you note I wrote to my boss after receiving a raise.

I’ll share one thing I could have done better and three that were well done.

Your thank-you note doesn’t have to be perfect to be meaningful.

Not Great: Sloppy Handwriting

Handwriting is important as it needs to be legible. Also, neat handwriting looks more professional when writing notes at the office.

My handwriting could have been better in this note (pictured below). When I intended to write “for,” I wrote “fore” instead, which was not the spelling of for I wanted to use. I noticed this before writing the next word. So it wrote over the “e” with the “t” in the word the. That is why there is not any space between for and the.

Also, I spelled appreciate wrong. I wrote the first “e” as “i” instead of “e”. I used the write-over tactic again to change the “i” to an “e.”

Sometimes, mistakes are a reason to start over when writing thank-you notes. Here is why I choose not to start over:

  • I know my boss well enough that I didn’t feel the need to start over to make the note perfect.
  • He has shared that he didn’t prefer handwritten notes over email thank-you notes, making me think that he will also be okay with a bit of sloppy handwriting.
  • I didn’t want to waste the card.

My mom would have started over. It’s up to you if you would or not, depending on your situation and comfort level with the recipient.

Analysis of an actual thank you note

Great: Including Specific Details

My number one tip for a great thank you note is to make it specific. My two reasons for writing the thank you note are included. First, to thank my boss for the raise. And then to thank him for winning the March Award of Excellence. Each month, this was awarded to one person in my department along with a $100 gift certificate.

I purposely delayed writing the note for the Aware of Excellence until I found out about my raise. I received notification of winning the Award of Excellence for the month of March in early April. The annual merit increases are distributed in mid-April. Since the timing was close (within about two weeks), I combined my gratitude for both into one thank-you note.

Great: How It Made Me Feel

I concluded the note by letting my boss know how I felt about the recognition. I felt great getting a raise and an award. The award was a surprise as my boss did not tell me he had nominated me for March.

I didn’t get fancy and went with how I was actually feeling. I didn’t try to come up with impressive sounded emotions. A thesaurus was not required.

Great: What I Didn’t Say

Notice I didn’t mention anything about my plans for the money. This was very intentional. Usually, when thanking people for money, I recommend telling them what you spent it on or are saving it for.

Income is an exception to sharing what you did or will do with the money with the giver. The money is not my boss’s personal money. It is the company’s money, so it is not any of his business as to how I will use the additional income.

I also didn’t mention what my raise dollar amount or percentage was. That might seem like a great, specific detail to include, but my boss already knows how much it was.

Also, you never know who may see your note, so it is better to leave out what the amount was. Your coworkers may have received more or less than you. Even if you decided on emailing your boss the thank you note, someone else could end up seeing it. Better to avoid potential drama no matter how excited you are about it.

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Heidi Bender is a writer and author who founded Tons of Thanks. Her goal is to help people write thank you notes by providing  examples examples and tips. She is the author of A Modern Guide to Writing Thank-You Notes.