by Laura Brown
Originally Published Apr 28, 2014
This week we’re thrilled to feature a post from guest blogger Jessica Sick, marketing manager for Crane & Co. Crane has been the maker of the finest quality stationery for more than 200 years. How to Write Anything: A Complete Guide features a sidebar by Crane on at-home cards, as well as images of some of their beautiful products.
As an authority on correspondence etiquette (we’ve literally been writing the book on it since the late 1800s), Crane receives emails daily from brides, professionals and anyone else needing advice on stationery and what should be written on said stationery. So, a couple years ago I decided to create the Crane Concierge, a trusted, quick-to-respond contact with (hopefully) all the answers. Below are just a handful of some of our frequently asked questions, everything from nicknames to politely relaying a “no children” wedding policy. Enjoy, and please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with your own!
Q: I am a banker that deals mostly in a retail setting. I have been using handwritten notes recently to add more of a personal touch to deepen relationships with my clients. What are some suggestions that you have for different types of stationery that I should have at all times, and should I have the same style on each type of stationery?
A: A hand-written note adds such a personal touch, and one that is much appreciated by the recipient. The one item I always recommend is the correspondence card, a flat card that usually provides enough room for a brief but thorough note. Though traditionally one would have separate business and personal stationery, I believe there is a way to successfully have one for both purposes. Start with a classic paper color (as opposed to a bright color) such as white or ecru and a printed name as opposed to a monogram. A printed name avoids confusion for more unfamiliar recipients. Allow personal style come through in ink color and typestyle choices, though avoid typestyle options that are too playful. Comic Sans should be reserved for children’s stationery. Adding your email address to the bottom of the stationery is a good way to include contact information without it feeling too corporate.
Q: My son, who is in eighth grade, is applying to schools. Resultantly, he will need stationery to thank people. I would like something classic (in ecru with blue lettering) and I believe that he should have single cards (versus note paper), but other than that, I am a bit overwhelmed. Can you help point me towards something appropriate?
A: Like stationery for adults, children’s stationery should express personal style while still remaining versatile enough to be used for many types of correspondence (please see above). While a more exquisite (and expensive) printing process such as engraving or letterpress is a lovely choice for adult personalized stationery, however, such processes are usually not appropriate for children. For younger correspondents — as well as non-profit organizations, religious organizations or anyone else who must keep a modest profile — thermograph printing is a suitable option. This process has a similar look to engraving but is much less expensive. Digital printing is also an option, as long as it is done well.
Q: I want to give a gift of personalized stationery to a young fellow who just graduated from college and is entering the work world. How do I correctly punctuate his name with the “Jr.” in his name?
A: When printing the name of someone who is a junior, both of the following are correct:
Jeffrey C. Miller, Jr.
Jeffrey C. Miller, junior
Q: My husband is a 4th year medical student and is starting to interview with residency programs around the country. He would like to send the doctors who interview him a thank you note, showing them that he values their time and takes his process very seriously. Is it better in this situation to send a generic note that says “thank you” on it, or to write a thank you note on personalized correspondence cards?
A: Personalized correspondence cards are always preferable to sending a generic thank you note. Generic thank you notes are good for those sent in large quantities and/or of lesser gravitas — holiday gratuities, help with the school clothing drive, gifts for a child’s birthday — however, when one wants to make a particularly good impression on the recipient, or when a gift is particularly heartfelt or generous, personalized stationery is best.
Q: What is the proper social title before a bride’s name (Miss or Ms.)? I am 30, never married, no children. My fiancé and I will be hosting our wedding this summer.
A: Miss is correct, or, for a more casual wedding, no title at all. In general, Miss is used when addressing an unmarried woman, while Ms. is used when addressing a married woman who has kept her maiden name or a divorced woman who has not remarried (or is remarried but has kept her maiden name). Either Miss or Ms. may be used when addressing a woman who is living with, but not married to, her significant other.
Q: Is “Doctor” reserved for just medical doctors, or are those with a PhD also referred to as such?
A: Traditionally only medical doctors were referred to as such, so as to make guests aware of who would be able to help in a medical emergency during the event. Now, however, it is a matter of personal preference. Both physicians and PhDs may use Doctor (or Dr. if his or her name is particularly long) in their title for social occasions, or no title at all. Similarly, “M.D.” and “PhD” are only used on one’s personalized business stationery.
Q: What paper would you recommend if using a fountain pen?
A: Our Kid Finish paper has been around for 120 years and is specifically designed to marry well with any writing instrument. We also have a specification in place that tests for any bleeding or strike through of ink.
Q: My proper name is Edward, however I use my nickname — Teddy — in most every setting. On formal cards, should I have my formal name or my nickname?
A: For formal cards, print your given name and then sign your notes with “Teddy.” For everyday stationery, however, printing the name used most is best.
Q: On which portion of a folded note do I write, and how do I place a folded note in its envelope?
A: Write your note on the inside below the fold and place it in the envelope so that the recipient, upon opening it, does not have to flip or turn it to read. So, front-facing with the fold at the top.
Q: How do I monogram a hyphenated last name?
A: For a hyphenated last name, the two last name letters are placed in the middle, slightly larger than the first and middle name initials. So, for example, Jane Elizabeth Smith-Browning would be JSBE. Another option is to drop the given middle name and use one’s maiden name as the middle name initial, with the married name initial in the center and slightly larger than the other two: JBS
Q: I have a bride who would like to be clear but tactful and correct about no children at the wedding. What is your advice in that?
A: By addressing the invitation to only the adults in the household, one indicates that children are not invited. Parents are generally good about calling or emailing if they are still not sure if their kids are invited.
Another option is to include the request on the wedding website, stating something like: “We adore children, however, we want you to dance into the wee hours without worry, so we ask you to make other arrangements for your little ones. For your convenience, we will be providing a sitter at the hotel. Please contact us if you would like to make arrangements and we will be happy to do so for you.”
Or, keep it simple with: “Adults only, please.”
Q: I was interviewed today by two managers, both of whom were present during the entire interview. Should I send two separate thank you notes or would it be okay to use just one?
A: Ideally separate thank you notes would be sent to each manager.
Q: When addressing wedding envelopes and an address reads 23000 SE 8th Street, do I make it 23000 Southeast 8th Street? Or possibly 23000 Southeast Eighth Street? Or 23000 SE Eighth Street?
A: Traditionally, numerals are used for a street number. However, it is also appropriate to write out numerals one through twenty. As for SE, this is an aesthetic decision — if writing out “Southeast” makes that line too long, then go with SE.