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Striking the right balance in a business thank you note

Q. I was recently involved in an inter-departmental training project that went very well. Based on my performance on this project, I have been asked to produce a similar presentation with several other departments throughout our firm. My success in this project was, of course, a collaboration.

I would like to send each of the department heads who were instrumental in our success a hand-written thank you note on good quality stationary--cotton ecru hand torn with a gold leaf embossed header with matching lined envelope. I have seen conflicting recommendations on how to do this appropriately within a business environment, but I read somewhere else that since it is business related, it should be typed on company letterhead.

I really am grateful and want to sincerely say thank you, not send a dry, bland memo that feels more like a political positioning than a thank you. How do I show sincere thanks while remaining professionally appropriate?

M. P., Oak Point, TX

A. While your thanks may be personal, they are being offered in a business context and should be written on company letterhead, not personal or blank business stationery. A typed note with a handwritten sentence or "thank you" written directly on the letterhead along with your handwritten signature strikes a good balance between the personal and professional. Because it carries the company imprimatur, this style of note would be suitable for inclusion in the recipient's personnel file or for framing on an office wall, depending on the subject matter. Easily composed, a personal business note generally has four parts: the greeting, an expression of appreciation for the occasion or favor, mention of enjoyment or value, and a sign-off.

While the usual 8.5" x 11" letterhead is perfectly appropriate for thank-you notes, some alternatives are monarch-size letterhead for typed and printed notes and fold-over notes with company name and logo for handwritten notes. At large companies, senior executives, directors and board members may have personalized company letterhead that includes their name and title. This, of course, would be the best solution. You might suggest that your company provide business-personal stationery in addition to standard letterhead.

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