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Writing a Professional "Thank You" Letter

Elaine W., Writing Center tutor

Please keep in mind that these are only general guidelines; always defer to your professor's specifications for a given assignment. If you have any questions about the content represented here, please contact the Writing Centers so that we can address them for you.

Introduction

When conducting interviews and business in general, thank you letters are a useful tool for fostering positive sentiments as well as individuality. They serve as a means for expressing gratitude and strong interpersonal skills. Writing thank you letters is a form of networking because they help to acquaint individuals with memorable and desirable aspects of another’s persona. This clearly defined positive perception of an individual can lead to recommendations that become new opportunities.

Formatting

Thank you letters were traditionally handwritten and mailed to individuals. Handwritten letters are still occasionally utilized (i.e. thanking small local businesses, writing to businesses that are not technologically oriented, etc.). However, most thank you letters are now typed. An increasingly popular trend for the sending of thank you letters is email. Since decision making has become more instantaneous, email is now considered the most efficient and personal method to thank individuals. The mailing of a thank you letter is still consider a suitable means for sending a thank you letter, but only if the correspondence can be sent directly to an individual.

All thank you letters should be:

  • free of grammatical and sentence level errors.
  • use appropriate positive formal language and terms relevant to professional field.
  • present information such as names, dates, and personal data according to particular formatting.
  • one page long.
  • use legible hand writing or 12-sized professional font (i.e. Times New Roman is considered a standard business font).
  • sent within 24 to 48 hours after an interview or business transaction.
  • addressed a specific individual (or group of individuals).
The body of a thank you letter should consist of two or three paragraphs. Typically thank you letters include an introduction, body, and conclusion paragraph. It is considered acceptable to include any additional information (i.e. stating the inclusion of documents) as a separate sentence prior to a conclusion.

Elements to include in an introduction:

  • Expression of appreciation
  • Reminder of what business transaction was conducted or what position was applied and interviewed for
  • Date and/or place of the interview or business function
Elements to include in the body:
  • Interest in the position or future business interactions
  • Information that might not have been stated during the interview
  • Further services that can be offered to the company
  • Reiterate qualifications for the position
  • Expand on concepts important to the cooperating business or topics mentioned during the course of the interview
  • Mention further business advancements
  • Discuss position relevant professional development activities completed or in progress since the interview
  • Include details not detailed in resume
  • Willingness to comply with future needs for the position or business transactions
Elements to include in a conclusion:
  • Illustrate thankfulness once again
  • Mention any enclosed or attached documents
  • Suggested further actions (i.e. “I look forward to your response”)

Helpful Resources

University of Minnesota: Offers detailed models of what information to include in a thank you letter as well as formatting. This source includes a helpful checklist of Do’s and Don’ts for thank you letter writing as well. The easy to read website recommends further advice based on thank you letter medium (i.e. handwritten, email, etc.).

Writing-Business-Letters: This resource details reasons for writing thank you letters and objectives that should be kept in mind during the composition process. There is help here for individuals writing post- interview thank you letters and those showing gratitude for business transactions. Additionally, there are openly assessable examples included on this site.

Virginia Tech: This website offers further explanations for elements within thank you letters. Information is divided by situation for writing the letter and how content changes based upon purpose. There are several thank you letter models included in this resource as well.

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