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How to Write a Thank-You Note

WebMD Feature from "Esquire" Magazine

By Tom Chiarella

Esquire Magazine Logo

First you remind the person what you are thanking them for. Then you tell them why. That's it.

A good thank-you note is a clear and ruddy piece of prose. There are only two moves involved. First you remind the person what you are thanking them for. Then you tell them why. That's it. You sign off, sure. And you might throw in an extra sentence or two for a laugh or a private joke. But it's mostly a chop-chop exercise: two solid, sincere sentences, each touching on the heart of the matter. It isn't all that tough.

My nieces and nephews get it. I have about six of their notes pinned to my fridge at any one time. My neighbor, the one whose trash can I drag to the street every Thursday night, she gets it, too. She writes me a thank-you note every three weeks or so. It always starts with the same first line: "Thank you again for helping me with my garbage cans." The second line varies: "It really is a load off my mind," "My arthritic hands just won't allow me to do it myself," or "I appreciate such reliable help more than I can say." That sort of thing. Sometimes there's a line about how much my children have grown or the emergence of the daylilies. Real gratitude is in the details.


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