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20-40-60 Etiquette: By hand or by email?

20-40-60 etiquette: How should I handle professional correspondence when my handwriting is terrible? Is email OK? Christina Nihira joins the 20-40-60 etiquette panel as guest.
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman and Callie Athey Published: September 23, 2013

QUESTION: What should I do? I work in a professional field and my handwriting is terrible. Emails have been great for me when I need to write a thank-you note or correspond about anything. It is certainly more legible when I can type it out. Any ideas?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Typing is faster than writing, which is why so many of us email or text instead of picking up the phone. We are a “too-busy” type of culture. A handwritten note is always more personable and impressive. I know there are writing classes you can take that can help you improve.

If you don't have time for classes, practice only makes perfect. I make lots of daily handwritten notes for myself to remember things. For example: “pick up the dog, go to the dry cleaners” and what I need to get at the store. Handwriting these notes can help you improve since you are not in a hurry writing them.

Slow down and practice.

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: I agree. Emails are a great way to handle things efficiently and quickly, and my handwriting isn't that great, either. I also agree with those who think that handwritten notes are more personal. I think when I take the time to write thoughts out by hand, my words are more meaningful.

Sometimes, I put off saying anything because I think I SHOULD write a handwritten note but then I don't get back to it as I wait to write the perfect note to the person. It seems that my endless to-do list get in the way of that. If I had just written an email, at least any acknowledgment of sorts would have been written and sent; it's easy for me to write on a keyboard. So, I wrestle with this, too. If you can get better at handwriting by practicing or slowing down as you write, then, that's the best solution because letters show effort and care in correspondence. However, I have come to realize that sending an email of thanks or correspondence is better than not sending anything at all. My procrastination in this area has not served me well.

HELEN'S ANSWER: It is still proper to write handwritten thank-you notes. Be brief if your handwriting is illegible, or get a great writing pen and practice your letters. We have received thank-you notes that just say “thank you” and we have appreciated the effort.

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by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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by Callie Athey
Freelance Writer
Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a...
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