End with the thanks

Yesterday’s post recommended that writers open with the ask when emailing a request for a favor. But with the thank-you, the order is best reversed.

Lesson #13 of my final 31 posts: When writing a thank-you note, end with the thanks.

I first encountered (and blogged about) this tip in 2016 via an NPR story, and it really resonated with me. I find this recommended order often makes it easier for the writer. It’s sometimes difficult to find enough substantive things to say as supporting evidence of your appreciation. But ending with the thank-you frees you up to express any number of things the person you’re thanking might be interested in hearing from you.

Here’s an example of how that might look for a student writing a thank-you note to a teacher who wrote recommendation letters on the student’s behalf.

Dear Mr. Lloyd:

Last week, I officially committed to attend Oberlin College in the fall! Words cannot express how excited I am, but they might be able to once I enroll as I’ve decided to study comparative literature. I have to say that until I took your class last year, I probably would not have considered that path. But the days I spent in room 102 discussing Chaucer, Twain, and the other authors whose work you somehow made come to life were some of the most engaging class hours I spent at Poly. In fact, one of the reasons I chose Oberlin was because I want to enjoy similar experiences learning, discussing, and debating ideas in class while I’m in college.

I also wanted to thank you for taking the time to write my letters of recommendation. I know how many of my friends asked you for the same favor and I can only imagine how much time it must have taken. But they clearly helped me gain admission to the college I most wanted to attend, and I hope you know how much I appreciate your work on my behalf.

All the best to you,

Cherise A.

The number of sentences expressing thanks in this message is only three. But the sincerity and appreciation ring true because of the order.