Good manners require handwritten responses

If you want to make Emily Post roll over in her grave, consider texting a thank you message or posting your appreciation to someone on their Facebook wall, rather than sending the traditional, handwritten thank-you note. No matter how much society embraces technology, as long as the U.S. Postal service is still operational, you need to handwrite thank-you notes.

With graduation and wedding season upon us, it is tempting to forego the traditional thank-you note in favor of instant communication via social networks. This generation of graduates, also known as Generation Z, has grown up with technology. They are comfortable texting, tweeting and using Skype to communicate with one other. Unfortunately, online communication tends to be informal, distant and often cold. Texting a thank you may be viewed as an afterthought, almost as if you are telling the person that their gift was nice but not nearly as valuable as the time it would take you to sit down and write a short note of thanks.

Many young people have difficulty handwriting letters. I have heard a vile rumor that some schools no longer teach cursive writing or penmanship. Just to tell you how old I am, or how much society has changed, I can remember completing handwriting exercises and being graded on penmanship.

Normally, when students have difficulty writing thank-you notes, I suggest they type the notes first on the computer and then go back and handwrite what they have typed. Thank-you notes do not need to be lengthy — just three to five sentences will do — but they must be personal. If finding the right words has you flustered, get ideas from sites such as

There are occasions when sending your thanks via text message or email is appropriate. For example, you might send a text or email if you are so excited or overjoyed by a gift that you just can’t help yourself. Most likely, the gift giver is sitting on pins and needles hoping you like the gift. Likewise, you might send an email if you are applying for a job and there is not enough time for the letter to get there before the hiring decision is made. However, in both instances a handwritten note should follow.

If your child is so immersed in technology that he or she absolutely cannot write a handwritten note, I suggest using a smartphone app called Postagram. Postagram gives you the ability to take photos with your smartphone and turn them into a physically mailed postcard. The app costs 99 cents and can be downloaded to your smartphone from

Ultimately, thank-you notes are a reflection on the gift recipient. They are a small gift of art delivered to the gift giver’s mailbox letting them know you value the time, effort and money they expended on your behalf. Stating your thanks is a gift in and of itself to the gift giver.


Written By: Mariah Smith, Extension Center for Technology Outreach

Submitted By: Juli Hughes, County Coordinator

Mississippi State University Extension Service – Choctaw County