How to Write a Letter of Gratitude (With Tips and Example)
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During your professional life, you may feel grateful for the support and efforts of many people, including your manager, colleagues, teachers and mentor. Writing a letter of gratitude is a common way to express these emotions. Sending a letter of gratitude can let someone know how important their contribution is, improve your connection and increase the change they may help you in the future.
In this article, we explain how to write a letter of gratitude, explain how a letter of gratitude differs from a thank-you letter or an appreciation letter, and provide some writing tips and an example you can use for inspiration.
How to write a letter of gratitude
The following steps detail how to write a letter of gratitude:
1. Add contact details and date
The format of a letter of gratitude is similar to a standard business letter, with content aligned to the left. Including your letter's purpose after the salutation, as most business letters do, is optional as it can make a letter of gratitude seem very formal. Consider your relationship with your recipient when deciding whether to include your letter's purpose. Including the following information, taking a new line for each bullet point, is common for most letters of gratitude:
your phone number
your email address
your street address
your city, state or territory and postcode
the date of writing in full
recipient's street address
recipient's city, state or territory and postcode
Related: How to Address a Letter
2. Add a warm salutation
A warm salutation introduces your letter with a friendly greeting. This salutation is usually more informal than most business letters. For example, you may refer to your recipient by their first name. You could also write Hi and your recipient's name, rather than the more traditional Dear. Consider your relationship with your recipient when choosing the most appropriate salutation.
3. Summarise why you're grateful for your recipient
Your first paragraph can tell your recipient why you are grateful for them. You may summarise why you feel grateful and thank your recipient for their contribution to your life. It's natural to mention your connection or relationship in your introductory paragraph.
4. Mention specific details about the recipient and their impact
The second paragraph can expand on your first paragraph and note specific behaviours or moments you shared with the recipient that mattered to you. Note the impact that the recipient had on you and your career. You may use more emotive language if you're closer to the receiver.
5. Conclude with an expression of gratitude
The last paragraph of a letter of gratitude usually highlights your feelings of gratitude and expresses your thanks to conclude positively. You may explain how your recipient's contribution helped you become the person you are today. If it's been a while since you communicated with your recipient, you might mention what you're doing in your career now and how their impact still resonates with you today. Add a professional sign-off and your signature above your printed name.
Related: How to End a Letter
How is a letter of gratitude different from a thank-you letter?
A letter of gratitude expresses how grateful you are for your recipient's overall contributions to your life. You can write a letter of gratitude at any time you want to express how thankful you are for the recipient's positive influence. A thank-you letter expresses thanks to someone for a specific action or behaviour. You write a thank-you letter to show your gratitude shortly after your recipient does something noteworthy for you.
How is a letter of gratitude different from an appreciation letter?
Letters of gratitude and appreciation letters both show how much you appreciate the recipient's contribution, although they have different recipients. People usually write appreciation letters to people in their professional circle, such as employees or colleagues. You can write a letter of gratitude to anyone you are grateful for. Often people write letters of gratitude to people from their past who made a long-lasting impact on them. Most appreciation letters express appreciation for more recent behaviours or events.
Tips for writing a letter of gratitude
The following tips can enhance your letter of gratitude and make it even more impactful:
Focus on your recipient
Customising your letters of gratitude makes them more personal and sincere, so it's best to write a unique letter for each recipient. Minimising distractions can help you focus on your recipient and write a more meaningful letter of gratitude. You may like to turn off music or television programs and set your phone to silent while you write. You could also take a few moments to think about your recipient and why you're so grateful for them before you start writing.
Adding specific details to your letter of gratitude can inject it with personality. The details you include may refresh your recipient's memory or help them understand their contributions from your point of view. As an example, you may refer to a specific project you worked on collectively or a particular skill the recipient helped you developed.
Tell your perspective
Sharing your insights and recollections can give your recipient a new perspective on your relationship. Your recipient may remember the times you shared together, but they may be unaware of how you felt about them or the impact they had on you. Sharing your emotions and reactions can make your letter of gratitude more meaningful and unique.
Unlike most business letters, a letter of gratitude should be informal and personal. Consider your feelings about your recipient and write them down in an honest and natural way. This approach makes your letter of gratitude feel authentic and personal.
Handwrite your letter
Handwriting your letter of gratitude can make it feel more personal and heartfelt. If you decide to handwrite your letter, try to use your neatest handwriting. You may print or use cursive handwriting.
Try to keep your letter less than a page long
Setting a one-page limit for your letter of gratitude helps you stay focused. A concise letter usually makes a more powerful impact. Think carefully about the points you want to make and what is really important for your recipient to know.
Proofread your letter of gratitude
Proofreading your letter of gratitude can help you improve your letter and make it seem more well thought out. Try to proofread your letter at least two days after writing it to view your writing more objectively. Identify and correct spelling, grammatical and typographical errors. You may like to read your letter aloud so you can listen for awkward phrasing you can improve. If you are handwriting your letter, it's better to rewrite it entirely than use liquid paper to correct your mistakes. You could also type and proofread your letter, then write it by hand.
Give a personal delivery, if possible
Writing a letter of gratitude is a good opportunity to make meaningful contact with someone who has made a big impression on your life. Delivering your letter personally helps you strengthen your connection with your recipient. If your recipient lives nearby, you may like to deliver your letter face-to-face. You could also call your recipient and read your letter to them over the telephone or video chat. Alternatively, you could mail the letter or send it as an email.
Letter of gratitude example
Here is an example of a letter of gratitude you could use to inspire your own letters:
Dear Ms Kim,
I would like to express my gratitude for the love of writing you instilled in me as a high school student. I always enjoyed writing short stories, but it took your senior English classes to understand the potential I had. Your praise gave me the confidence to pursue a career in this field.
I was so moved when you read my story about the loss of my grandfather out to the class and told the other students it was a prime example of the way the right words can make the audience feel emotions. I was unaware I had that power before, and it made me want to move people even more with my stories. I really appreciated you reading each story I'd give you in your own time and offering such constructive critiques. I know your insights made me a better writer.
I recently secured my first job at a local newspaper writing human interest stories. I'm enjoying sharing stories of the residents with people in the local area and hopefully moving them with my words. Your advice plays in my mind whenever I proofread my articles. I could always count on you for honesty and advice. Ms Kim, I am so grateful for you seeing the potential in me and giving me the confidence to pursue my career. Thank you for your guidance and belief.
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