Business Stationery: the lost art of communications

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Business stationery is the lost art of communication. Using it today can really make you stand out to others. Hard copy correspondences are more likely to be read in today’s high tech world, it reminds someone there is a real, live person on the other side, helps you make a statement that you cared enough to take the time to write, and adds a personal touch; all of which help to build and reinforce your personal brand.

There are three basic types of handwritten correspondences:

The following cards are from I found them to have a great selection and easily accessible.

Note Sheets

Note sheets are smaller than regular 8.5 x 11 inch stationery, with its measurements being 8.5 x 6 3/8. Its purpose is to be used for handwritten correspondences. It is typically used by men. I recommend using a note sheet for those in higher level executive positions.

Flat Cards

Typically known as a Note Card and are used for short messages, such as a thank you note. Men typically use a Note Card versus a fold-over note card. Where as women typically use the fold-over note card. Note cards are typically 4 ¼ x 6 3/8 and are best in a heavy weight paper.


Folded Notes

The fold-over note card is typically used by women. There are many sizes but the most standard size is 3 13/16 x 5 5/16. You can write on the upper inside panel, provided there is not embossing or engraving. It is best; however, to start on the bottom, inside panel, continuing the note on the back.

NOTE: When you complete your note on the back, flip it up and write from the edge toward the fold of the card. Do not flip it over and complete the note. You do not need to draw an arrow or say turn overJ Most of us know an incomplete sentence when we see one!

Personalizing Your Personal Stationery

Note Sheets and Note Cards:

I do not recommend using any motifs or monograms, (there are for personal use, not business use) instead you should print your full name at the top. For Ph.D. write Doctor Mary Smith, versus, Mary Smith, Ph.D. Also, do not put Mr., Mrs., or Ms.

Folded Notes

You can have the words, Thank You, printed on the front, but do not print any message on the inside of the card. You should write the message. Doing so only makes the card not personal, which defeats the whole purpose.


You should select quality paper for your notes. Note Cards are heavier stock paper weight where Fold Notes can be lighter in paper weight. Note sheets are lighter in weight, like that of typically letter head.

I recommend going white or ecru in color. No bright or colored papers; unless you are in the creative industry and then tradition is typically broken all around. Check with your local printer. There are many options so keep in mind it’s about being professional and a little formal…even in today’s business casual environments.


There are many options when printing your name or a thank you message on your stationery. Budget is the concern here. Embossing and engraving are the most traditional forms of printing; however, they are more expensive than the more common thermography or lithography.

Your business stationery should be professional printed. If you do self-printing be aware that is can diminish your message and brand. The following are options for you to consider.


A printing technique used to create raised surfaces on the paper. The shape can be observed on both the front and back surfaces.


Engraving is a process that requires a design to be cut into a plate made of a relatively hard material. The plate is then pressed into paper under substantial pressure. The result is a design that is slightly raised on the surface of the paper and covered in ink.

Thermographic and Lithographic

These processes are less expensive and quit acceptable as long as the paper is of good quality. If you can afford it, I would opt for embossing or engraving. If you choose this route, I strongly advice to avoid raised shiny lettering. It just looks cheap!

Addressing Envelopes

You should handwrite your address and the recipient’s address. Do not use a pre printed label, again, this depersonalizes the purpose of the note.

Write your return address on the front of the envelope not the back flap. This may look nice but the US Postal Service will not guarantee to return it to you if undeliverable. It looks nice, so you decide how important that is. Also when using professional titles; spell it out, such as Doctor Ann Stone, versus, Ann Stone MD.

Although the postal service requests abbreviating States, I recommend spelling it out, it just looks nicer. Also avoid abbreviating common address words such as Street or Boulevard. Again, spell them out.

Stuffing Envelopes

The printed side of the note should be the side facing the recipient when he or she opens the stationery, so be sure to stuff your envelopes with the printed side of your card facing the flap of the envelope.


Nonverbally, stamps can help convey your professional brand. Avoid using office generated stamps. Personalize it by using a Breast Cancer stamp or AIDS stamp if appropriate. Avoid flowers, Elvis or wedding bells!


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