correspondence etiquette

Thank You Notes: Digital or Handwritten?

My peers call me “old fashioned”- a Jane Austen character that lingered off the page and wound
up in a complex, technology driven society. And yet, even I, rarely take part in the classic 19th
century ritual of letter writing. The composing of ‘Thank You’ cards is no exception… But
should it be?
In this era of text, email, and zoom based communication, are hand written ‘Thank You’ notes
still necessary? Are they still the proper way to express gratitude?
The answer: essentially yes, hand written ‘Thank You’ notes have not and will not go out of
style. According to, one should always send a ‘Thank You’ note after receiving
any kind of gift from someone. Additionally, in cases where someone has gone out of their way
for you (e.g. they host you at their home for a period of time or throw a party or event for you), a
hand written ‘Thank You’ card is definitely advised.

“The Examination of All the Letters Which Jane Had Written to Her,” Isabel Bishop Courtesy of The Morgan Library & Museum


However, in more casual scenarios ( e.g. when someone invites you to catch up over a drink), a
text or email ‘Thank You’ will do.
In general, here’s why you should resist the urge to send a digital ‘Thank You’ and instead reach
for a pen:
1. It helps you to stand out. This is especially applicable in a professional setting, like
post interview.
2. By taking the extra time to write a personal note, you’re effectively showing that you
care and value the relationship you have with the recipient.
3. We could all use moments of joy and excitement, no matter how small. Sending a
letter or card is an easy way to provide that for someone. As James Willis Westlake
states in his book, How to Write Letters, “No one would willingly lose out of his life
the joy of receiving letters from absent friends, nor withholding others the same
exquisite pleasure.”
So, let’s channel our inner Elizabeth Bennetts and start writing our ‘Thank You’ notes!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.