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May 30, 2012
Is it okay to send thank you notes by email? Well, a thank you by email is certainly better than no thank you at all, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way. When it comes to saying thank you, etiquette experts agree that a handwritten note arriving in your mailbox is always more special than one popping up in your inbox.
So in this age of texting and Twitter—when short, quick messages make sitting down to hand write anything seem like an archaic activity—is it ever okay to thank people via email? The answer is sometimes. For instance, email may be a perfectly acceptable way of thanking someone with whom you have a close and casual relationship. It may not, however, be appropriate for a person of an older generation who grew up in a time when handwritten notes were considered a common courtesy.
Email may be suitable for thanking people in certain business situations, but people should let the company’s culture guide them in deciding what’s acceptable. For example, If the person you want to thank works at an organization where email is the preferred method of communication, than a thank you via email is probably appropriate. Email offers the advantage of speed over snail mail, and therefore, may be a good choice when thanking someone for a job interview, especially if a hiring decision needs to be made quickly.
Most of the time, etiquette sources, such as Emily Post’s website www.emilypost.com, say a handwritten note is the best way to offer heartfelt thanks. Here are situations in which a thank you note is expected:
– wedding gifts
– bridal/baby shower gifts
– graduation gifts
– for the host/hostess of a party thrown in your honor
– when you have been a house guest
– for birthday gifts, especially when the giver was not there to thank in person
– for sympathy flowers or donations made in memory of a loved one
Here are other occasions when thank you notes are considered a nice gesture (email may be acceptable in some of these cases):
– a friend does something special for you (makes you a meal, takes you out to lunch, etc).
– you have been a guest at a dinner party
– for cards, flowers, and gifts received during illness or injury
– a business or individual has given you excellent service
For more information on how to say “thank you” and for etiquette tips of all kinds, visit www.emilypost.com.
### Erika lives in Milwaukie with her husband, Alex, and two sons. She teaches writing and communication courses at the University of Portland. *
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