Numerous times I have extolled the virtues of the thank-you note. It sets you apart from the competition. It brings you to the front of mind of the recipient. And it does so repeatedly, as she is reminded of you each time she sees that note sitting on a corner of her desk.
What, you may wonder, is an appropriate piece of paper on which to write a thank-you note, and, for that matter, what constitutes the kind of stationery a businessperson should have on hand for a variety of uses? What should be in his stationery drawer?
Corporate Letterhead. That’s the formal 8 ½” x 11” paper with a corporate logo and the company name and address on it. Depending on the type of company—a law firm, for example—it may also include the names of senior executives or partners. If names are printed on the letterhead, then only the people whose names appear should be using it for correspondence. Letterhead without individual names can be used by anyone in the business. Typically, business letterhead is a high quality sheet of paper (high cotton fiber), often 24-pound weight to make it feel more substantial in the recipient’s hands. You should also have second sheets, which have nothing printed on them, for letters of more than one page in length.
Executive sheets. These are smaller in size—7 ¼” x 10 ½”. Sometimes referred to as monarch sheets, these are used for more personal business correspondence. Typically, they will be printed with an individual’s name and the business address but not the company name or logo. Some business professionals use executive sheets as their formal letterhead, in which case the company name and logo can be printed on them. If used as formal letterhead, remember to order second sheets as well.
Envelopes. Envelopes that match the corporate letterhead or executive letterhead have the logo or name and address of the company printed on the face side.
Correspondence Cards. These are small, single piece note cards 4 ½” x 6 ½” in size and of heavyweight card stock paper. Your name is the only item printed on these cards. Alternatively, correspondence stationery can be a 9” x 6 ½” sheet that is folded in half. Your name and address should be printed on matching envelopes.
Business Cards. The typical business card is 3 ½” x 2” although you will see people offer non-traditional size cards in the hopes that the card will be more memorable. Often, these cards do not fit in standard size cardholders or wallet slots. The card should contain contact information including name, position, company name, address, and phone number. You can also include cell and fax numbers, email address, website URL, and social networking addresses. If your name is non-gender specific (for instance Adrian or Kelly or Sandy) use a courtesy title (Mr. Adrian Jones or Ms. Kelly Smith) to remove any confusion.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
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