How Do You Word Sympathy and Thank-You Notes?

While sympathy and thank you notes require different wording, both types of notes should be heartfelt, personal and specific. Notes in either circumstance start with a greeting, add details in the body and end with a warm expression of feelings.

Sympathy notes should contain true, honest words that convey appropriate feelings toward the recipient. A note can be as simple as: "Dear Jane, I was saddened to hear of the passing of your father. Please accept our condolences, and know that you are in our prayers. If we can do anything to help you during this difficult time, don't hesitate to call. Our deepest sympathies." More details, such as memories or funny stories, can be added to offer more warm thoughts and expressions of sympathy.

Thank you notes should also express warm feelings and sincere appreciation. Remember to mention the gift or act that prompted the note, and be specific. The closing is determined by the relationship between the addressee and writer; closer relationships can end with more personal terms. For example, a thank you letter to Grandma might say: "Dear Grandma, Thank you for the lovely bridal shower gifts! I am so thrilled to have a cookbook and apron just like yours--I remember cooking so many meals with you using yours! You have given me more than just a gift for my new life with Jack. I hope you'll have dinner with us soon. Thanks again! Love, Jennifer."