The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

The art of the ‘thank you’


Interviewees need to have a few things in order before embarking on their job search. Suit? Check. Resume? Check. Stationery? Most people forget the last one.

“The secret to success in life is the thank you note,” said Joy Weaver, a Dallas-based etiquette expert.

The thank you note is an opportunity to be kind, thankful, and to help others remember your name, especially in a business setting. Sending a thank you note after an interview could be the factor that gets you the job.

Suzanne Roberts said sending a thank you note after an interview shows that “a young person knows the importance of personal attention of responding to an activity that benefited them.” Roberts owns Suzanne Roberts Gifts in Snider Plaza, a store specializing in home accessories and stationery. She noted that thank you cards display a person’s handwriting, attention to detail, and effort in purchasing quality paper to their employer.

“We in the South still like to receive handwritten notes,” said Roberts. “People will remember that you cared.”

In a generation where most communication is a few key clicks away, some traditional means of reaching out to someone have fallen by the wayside. People are more likely to pull out their phone than put an envelope in the mail to get in touch with their loved ones. However, many people underestimate the value of embracing etiquette and taking a traditional route to communication. Thank you notes have been around for centuries, but as they drop off common culture’s radar, their impact on the recipient is bigger than ever.

“I still keep some of the thank you notes I’ve gotten from friends and family,” said SMU senior Ryan Kaul.

Kaul, a film major, agreed that sending a thank you note is important to show someone gratitude, but admitted he’s not the best at remembering to put a pen to paper.

“I just forget sometimes,” he said.

Alessandro Pauri, a public policy and political science double-major, admitted his opinion on thank you notes and actions don’t quite add up.

“I think they’re lovely,” he said, “but I’m too lazy to write them.”

Time, or lack thereof, is ushering people into responding digitally. Texting, emails, and digital thank you notes are trading places with handwritten cards. While this method doesn’t altogether replace the personal touch of a physical note, it can be the first step in responding to a business engagement.

“Sending a thank you text as you’re walking out of an interview shows you’re thankful for their time,” said Weaver, who owns and operates an etiquette consulting company where she teaches proper protocol to clients of all ages. She also does a lot of consulting the corporate world.

Although a text is very casual, it allows employers to see your name one more time. Interviewees should also follow up with a handwritten note as a way to outshine their competitors. The value of the handwritten thank you note in today’s world has become an undervalued asset that can be used to a great advantage.

“Being in society now means it doesn’t take much to impress someone,” Weaver said. “Thank you notes are an opportunity to stand out.”

“I’ve gotten in the habit of writing notes after interviews,” said sophomore Claire Harrison.

Interviews aren’t the only occasions to send thank you cards. Thank you notes are also very appropriate after receiving gifts, and in any occasion where a person wished to express gratitude. Art history and anthropology student Kandi Doming said she thinks thank you notes are “definitely due after graduation gifts and wedding gifts are received.”

Until recently, societies across history have been infatuated with etiquette. Common etiquette rules stemmed from French courts in the 16th and 17th centuries, and are updated occasionally as society changes. Lord Chesterfield, a 17th century British statesman denoted word “etiquette” as the title for all topics in proper rules and manners. His “Letters to His Son” and “Letters to His Godson” became written conglomerations of rules of society for his era.

America’s relationship with proper etiquette waned after etiquette lessons were taken out of public schools in the 1950s. Kids were then taught which fork to use and how to address envelopes by their parents or grandparents, creating confusion. Without a common set of rules being taught, tradition became jumbled. Eventually, Americans lost interest in actually finding out what the correct way to do things was.

“It took civility out of civilization,” said Weaver.

Not all civility was lost, however. Kaul, the film major, mentioned a time when he received a thank you note for simply walking with his friend’s elderly grandmother in the crowds during a graduation ceremony. He was so surprised by her gesture, and said it made him feel special.

“The important thing is to appreciate someone’s value, and a thank you note is a great way to do that,” he said.

Paige Kerley is a junior at SMU studying journalism and minoring in law and legal reasoning.


Before embarking on crafting a card, knowing the proper methods of sending a thank you note is key. The first step is selecting stationery. Quality paper in white or ecru is the most professional option.

“A professional thank you note should be tailored and simple,” said Suzanne Roberts. She suggests to stick with an unlined envelope, or an envelope with a solid lining. Traditional thank you notes should also not have the words “thank you” already printed on them.

“It’s just not the proper thing to do,” she added.

Stationery is easily personalized and gives an employer something else besides your resume with your name on it. Monogramed notes are popular but should be properly printed. For professional thank you notes, the first initial of the last name, or the entire name, is what should be shown on the cards. This applies to cards sent by men, or women who are married. An unmarried woman may use either her first or last initial. Three-letter monograms are only appropriate for a thank you note for a social event or to a close friend.

The text of the card’s message should be planned in advance, Weaver said. A thank you note should always have the words “thank you” in the first line of text, and text should never run to the back of the card. A date should also be written in the bottom left corner of the note, not the upper right corner as in business documents.

The envelope is also important. Cards should face outward, so the recipient doesn’t have to flip it over to read once it is opened. The address also requires attention to detail. Married female recipients should be addressed as “Mrs. Smith” or “Ms. Susie Smith.”

“The Mrs. title indicates that a woman is married to the person that follows the title,” Joy Weaver explained. Women under the age of 21 should have the title “miss”, and boys under the age of 12 are to be referred to as “master” on the envelope.

More to Discover