A guide to the Top 10 most frequent etiquette errors
We love the contemporary nature and the individualism of all the orders and designs we see each day, yet we are often asked about the right ‘form’ in corresponding with people on your lovely new stationery.
We are not keen on absolute right and wrongs as we feel that ones personality really shows on hand written notes and papers and that’s one of the most wondrous aspects of personalised stationery, so below we hope to have provided some examples of the questions we are asked the most.
How to avoid etiquette errors
1. ‘Yours sincerely’ or ‘Yours faithfully’?
This is an old favourite: when to be sincere and when to be faithful! If you know the name of the recipient, use ‘Yours sincerely’; and if you don’t know the name of the recipient, use ‘Yours faithfully.’ And when to capitalise? Use our example: a capital for the first word only.
2. Why do you not write your name on a personalised letterhead?
Traditionally, only an address should appear on personalised letterhead and we believe this was because in grand old houses, any member of the household, including guests, could avail themselves of letterhead and writing paper. It was the norm for all guest bedrooms to have their own supply.
Of course, nowadays it is quite acceptable to have whatever you like on your letterhead, but we think it’s rather a nice and welcoming touch to offer a sheaf of writing paper for your guests and visitors and an elegant nod to days gone by.
3. The question we’re asked most: Correspondence Note Card etiquette
Correspondence Cards are one of our best sellers, both for personal use and as wonderful gifts to those moving into a new home. They are one of the most useful items in a stationery portfolio. More informal than a note, these cards are used for thank-yous, informal invitations, and short notes. However, we are often asked by our customers how a correspondence card should be worded and there are various options.
If the card is for an individual, then a name and address should be added. Or an alternative expression, and one we quite like, is ‘From the desk of….’ as we feel this has a timeless and elegant air. If however it is a Correspondence Card from the household, then the family name should be used or even just the address, so all members of the family can use it (including guests). A monogram can also look very chic – we have some beautiful illustrated ones for you to choose from.
4. Sending an electronic thank you when only handwritten will do…
In this age of rapid digital communications never allow an electronic thank you to replace a hand-written note. It is all too easy to ‘forget’ that a hand-written note can be more thoughtful and genuine. It shows the recipient that you have taken the time to display your appreciation of their efforts. Keep a stash of personalised stationery close to your desk. A thank you e-mail or text can supplement – but should never replace – a heartfelt handwritten note. And moreover, by not clogging an inbox with yet another email, your mode of communication may well set you apart.
5. An untimely thank you
A mis-timed thank you can almost be as damaging as not sending one at all! Being late with your follow up can suggest you did not appreciate or care. If you’re thanking someone for hosting a dinner party, it’s best to get a thank you in the mail within the first 24 to 48 hours. Same goes for a business acquaintance who has introduced you to a useful connection or hosted a business event. If you are thanking wedding guests or sending out post festive thank yous, then you have more time to play with, as people realise that this is an exceptional and busy period; however, something just after the honeymoon or before the children go back to school is suggested.
6. Responding in kind
When ‘RSVP-ing’ to a written invitation you should respond in kind – i.e. with a written, rather than electronic, response. In your written communication you should reiterate the details of the invitation, in the same order as they appear. This indicates to the host that you know why the event is being held, where it’s happening and at what time. (And by doing this, you’re also reminding yourself of the details. Don’t forget to put them in your diary too!)
7. Not noting who to address your letter to
This is a classic for job applicants. You see your dream job advertised, you spend hours (sometimes days!) crafting a cover letter…only to address it ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ when there is an obvious recipient named in the ‘blurb’ that you haven’t read. Always take the time to read the details. If a name isn’t mentioned, or it isn’t clear as to whom you should address your application, then consider calling to find out. Attention to detail is impressive.
8. Don’t embarrass the recipient…
If you are sending something of a personal nature through the mail – and particularly to a recipient’s business address – it is always best to mark the envelope as such. Whilst a witty greetings card will be appreciated, the humour may not sit comfortably on the recipient’s desk.
9. And don’t embarrass yourself
We tend to think of this as a piece of advice for electronic communications – and indeed it is – but it still remains applicable to the written word. Don’t forget: if you would not want to see it quoted and backed up by written proof, don’t put it in writing!
10. And finally, one of our favourites…when an on-line stationer offers a free e-proof proofing option, ask for a second opinion…
We are advocates of the electronic proof…and have learnt the hard way. One of our esteemed creatives here at HoneyTree once sent out an e-shot suggesting a ‘gentile reminder.’ It raised both eyebrows and laughs – luckily, more of the latter. So when you create something beautiful on-line we suggest you print off your free e-proof to read through. And even better, give it to someone else to read too, just to double check. That’s why we allow you to order as many free electronic proofs as you need.